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Book Spotlight: "Basic Sign Communication"
A brief excerpt from From "Basic Sign Communication" published by the National Association of the Deaf

Topic:  Initialization

"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 Language.

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 lexicon."

Source: Newell, W., & National Technical Institute for the Deaf. (1983). Basic sign communication. Silver Spring, Md: National Association of the Deaf.

For more discussion on this topic see:  Initialization

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