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ASL Topics:  Lexicon vs Vocabulary?

Lyn Wiley writes:

Hi Bill,
Re: the concept of 'building one's sign vocabulary.'
Do you refer to the accumulation of signs as a 'sign-vocabulary?' Or, as a 'sign-lexicon?'
Or perhaps I am ignorant to some other term that would be more correct, more suitable?
When I think of the words 'vocabulary' and 'lexicon' I think of 'spoken words' (but perhaps I'm wrong about that).
Hope you're having a good week!


Depends on your audience eh?
The typical ASL student doesn't know the word "lexicon."
The two terms overlap quite a bit (see the dictionary entries below).
But to answer your question, a student builds up his/her signing vocabulary by studying the lexicon of ASL.
The lexicon of ASL consists of the signs, lexicalized fingerspelling, facial expressions, and loan-signs, as well as the head, shoulder, and torso movements (which have established meanings) in ASL. A student develops his ASL vocabulary by learning more and more of the ASL lexicon.
-- Bill 
(William G. Vicars, Ed.D)

1:  A list or collection of words or of words and phrases usually alphabetically arranged and explained or defined: lexicon
2:  A sum or stock of words employed by a language, group, individual, or work or in a field of knowledge
3:  A list or collection of terms or codes available for use (as in an indexing system)
4:  A supply of expressive techniques or devices (as of an art form)

1: A book containing an alphabetical arrangement of the words in a language and their definitions : dictionary
2: The vocabulary of a language, an individual speaker or group of speakers, or a subject
3: The total stock of morphemes in a language
4: Repertoire, inventory


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