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"Basic Sign Communication"
A brief excerpt from From "Basic Sign Communication" published by the National Association of the Deaf
"An initialized sign uses a letter of the manual alphabet
as the handshape of the sign which has the movement, location, and orientation
of an older form. Initialization is one mechanism by which sign language
expands its vocabulary. It is, however, not the only way, and caution should
be exercised in the invention of initialized signs.
The proliferation and popularity in education of
signed English systems has led to an inordinate amount of initialization
of basic signs in order to specify English words more directly. Many of
these initialized signs have not been readily accepted and used by the
deaf signing community. Only the test of time will tell how many of these
initialized signs will be incorporated into the lexicon of American Sign
The signs "family," using the "f" handshape, and
"class," using the "c" handshape, are examples of
initialized signs that have become a part of the American Sign Language
Newell, W., & National Technical Institute for the Deaf. (1983).
Basic sign communication. Silver Spring, Md: National Association of the
For more discussion on this topic see: Initialization
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