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LotM - Feb 18: Wondrish Sign Language
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Our first ever Signed conlang to win LOTM - congratulations to Rey Wilson and vir super cool language!
This public article was written by [Deactivated User], and last updated on 28 Feb 2018, 04:30.

[comments] [history] Menu 1. Phonology and Orthography 2. Morphosyntax 3. More on Wondrish Sign Language 4. A Note on Wondrish Sign Language Our official LOTM writer is so so sorry that it took him this long.

February's language is our first sign language of the month,  Wondrish Sign Language by @[Deactivated User] ! The orthography might be hard to understand, but there's articles to help you out, and ve's even got a video! (How cool.)

[top]Phonology and Orthography

As a sign language, the Wondrish Sign Language phonology is very different from spoken language phonology. One of the basic parameters of sign language phonology is the handshape. There are 23 different handshapes in WSL, many of which are familiar from ASL, some of which are present in ASL but notated differently in WSL, and some of which are not used by ASL at all. The features that make up a handshape include the number of fingers held up and the position of the thumb, although there are other factors like whether the fingers are curved. Another basic parameter is place. WSL signs can be made at a variety of places above the waistline, from the forehead down to below the navel, and can also be made at the palms, finger, or knuckles of the non-dominant hand. The final basic parameter is movement. WSL signs allow a variety of movements: left or right, towards or away from the signer, up and down, or any combination of two compatible basic directions.

The orthography of WSL is based on David Peterson's SLIPA, an X-SAMPA-like notation system for sign languages. There are some modifications that WSL has made to make it easier to write, which are documented in this article on WSL handshapes. Here's a simple example of how to read SLIPA for WSL. The adverb "down" in WSL is m[I!u(t)]XC. The letter (or letters) before the bracket indicates the place of the sign, in this case, the middle chest. The contents of the brackets indicate the handshape. The base handshape of this sign is I, identical to the ASL handshape I, and the part after the exclamation mark indicates that the wrist is unbent and facing towards the signer. Finally, after the bracket, the letters XC indicate movement downward. Most WSL signs are much more complicated than that, but that should get you started reading WSL!


WSL syntax is based on a topic-comment structure, although the topic can be omitted when clear from context. After the topic, word order is generally head-initial, with verbs preceding both the object and subject and nouns preceding adjectives. However,nlike in spoken languages, the word order within a phrase can be affected by the movement involved in articulating the signs. For instance, adjectives modifying the same noun are ordered so that the adjective signed closest to the place at the end of the noun comes right after the noun. As an example, the sign HOOD ends at the chin, the sign RED begins at the lower lip, and the sign SMALL/LITTLE begins at the middle chest. To sign HOOD SMALL/LITTLE RED for "little red hood", you'd have to move your hand from the face, to the chest, then back to the face. Instead, a WSL speaker will sign HOOD RED SMALL/LITTLE, which reduces the amount of required extraneous movement between signs.

Another very cool feature of WSL syntax is that basic order in the transitive clause is determined by the verb. Some verbs force a VSO order, and others force a VOS order. The former may be called VSO verbs or "giver" verbs, while the latter may be called VOS verbs or "taker" verbs.

Finally, the Wondrish Sign Language typically totally omits prepositional phrases. Instead, it uses a strategy unique to sign languages. It indicates spatial relations by signing the locative noun first, then signing the modified noun in the same space as the locative noun. For signs that can't be easily moved around, classifiers may be used as well.

[top]More on Wondrish Sign Language

If you want more on Wondrish Sign Language, check out its articles, LexiBuild sets, or translations.

[top]A Note on Wondrish Sign Language

Got suggestions for how the next LotM should be written? See something in Wondrish Sign Language that wasn't covered and you wish it had been? Feel free to shoot us (phi2dao, argyle, protondonor, or Avlönskt) a PM with your questions, comments, and/or concerns. Also feel free to drop by the LotM clan if you have other feedback, want to join in the voting process, or nominate a language!
[link] [quote] [move] [edit] [del] 28-Feb-18 04:36 [Deactivated User]
Ok, I'd like to very sincerely apologize for completely dropping the ball on this.

At the end of January, I had just had surgery and started several weeks of medical leave. I wasn't able to write the article and didn't clearly communicate that to the rest of the staff but somehow assumed someone would take care of it anyway. I was busy for a while and didn't check CWS until yesterday to prepare to write March's LotM.

I really hope everyone knows how cool this language is and I wish I'd gotten around to writing this much, much earlier.
[link] [quote] 24-Feb-18 17:05 [Deactivated User]
I'd be so frustrated to have an empty article as a LotM... I hope vir don't mind.
[link] [quote] [move] [edit] [del] 24-Feb-18 11:14 [Deactivated User]
So this will stay Wip forever?
[link] [quote] [move] [edit] [del] 24-Feb-18 03:34 [Deactivated User]
Well, I think author just didn't expect that sign language can ever get LOTM... This field is out of my focus currently but I think it's awesome that someone is working on signs - they seems to be more complicated to develop... at least for me.
[link] [quote] 23-Feb-18 00:19 [Deactivated User]
@[Deactivated User] - the rest of the article was done in sign language.
[link] [quote] [move] [edit] [del] 22-Feb-18 22:57 [Deactivated User]
So good the authors of LotM couldn’t find anything to write about lest they taint this lang
Edit history
on 28/02/18 04:30+4482[Deactivated User]oh god i'm so sorry i dropped the ball on this
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