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Working paper

Automatic Extraction of Handshapes Inventory in Russian Sign Language

Klezovich A.
The Prosodic model of phonology (Brentari 1998) implies that all signs in any sign language have prosodic and inherent features. This dichotomy (movement feature vs. all other features) occurs to some extent in all phonological theories. The idea derives from Liddell & Johnson’s (1994) Movement-Hold model, where they proposed that movements can be in most cases derived from the knowledge of holds and their relative order, and that it is sufficient to describe in-detail only holds. Therefore, when it comes to describing phonemic inventories of a particular sign language, researchers focus on the building of separate phonemic inventories for each of the inherent features (or for features of holds) (Channon & Hulst 2011), namely handshape, location, and orientation (e.g. van der Kooij (2002) for Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) – only handshapes inventory, Nyst (2007) for Adamorobe Sign Language (AdaSL) – handshapes and locations inventories, etc.). This research focuses on handshapes inventory for Russian Sign Language (RSL). First, I automatically extract positions without movement (i.e. holds) using an algorithm developed on the basis of Börstell’s (2018) script. Then I manually annotate holds for the handshapes with respect to Hamburg Notation System (HamNoSys; Hanke 2004) and describe resulting phonetic handshapes inventory for RSL, comparing this data with other sign languages. The last but not the least, the enventory of phonemic hanshapes for RSL is derived from the phonetic one under van der Kooij’s (2002) model of phonology.