Auslan Glossary meaning of terms

Auslan Glossary meaning of terms



Auslan Glossary meaning of terms

Auslan Glossary

The production of structurally correct forms of the target language.

Active watching
Active watching or viewing, instead of active listening, is required in an Auslan class. Students concentrate visually on the reception and understanding of the signed message.

Australian Language and Literacy Policy.

A digital code, note or comment on a video file that identifies something about the language; for example, what signs are used or where there is a particular handshape.

Relating to the physical movements required to produce language.

American Sign Language. Although signed languages around the world share some similar properties, they are in fact quite different, particularly at the lexical level.

How the action or event a verb describes happens over time, for example, it can be ongoing or completed.

Aspectual marking
Changes made to a verb to show aspect.

Intended readers, listeners or viewers.

The notion of superiority based on the ability to hear. Like other forms of oppression, such as racism or sexism, audism stigmatises deaf people and limits their potential. The term was first coined by Tom Humphries in 1977.

Authentic texts/materials
Texts or materials produced for ‘real-life’ purposes and contexts, as opposed to being created specifically for learning tasks or language practice.

Auxiliary verb
A verb that combines with another verb in a verb phrase to form tense, as in WILL, or mood, as in SHOULD or CAN.

Responses given by the receiver of a message in a conversation that serve a social function, such as showing attention or nodding without interrupting the signer or giver of the message.

The family of sign languages which encompass British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Languages.

The ability to use two or more languages.


A detailed account of an individual’s life; a text genre that lends itself to different modes of expression and construction. In the context of intercultural language learning, the concept of biography can be considered in relation to identity, to the formation of identity over time and to the understanding that language is involved in the shaping and expressing of identity.

Body-anchored signs
Signs that make contact with a location on the body or use the whole body and therefore cannot easily be moved around in space.

British Sign Language.

A sign produced with the non-dominant hand held in place to represent something while the dominant hand continues to sign something else.

Character space
See Frames of reference.

Citation form
The basic form of a sign, without modifications, as found in a dictionary.

A basic chunk of propositional meaning, referring to a happening or a state. Information in Auslan clauses may be either “told” or “shown” (using CA or depicting signs) or a mix of both.

Cochlear implant
A small electronic device that can be surgically inserted into the inner ear to provide sound signals to the brain.

Child of Deaf Adults; the term that typically refers to hearing children of deaf parents, who often use a signed language as their first language in their family of origin.

The use of a range of language features to link parts of a signed text together, making it easy to follow and to understand referents in the text.

Cohesive devices
Features of language used to make texts cohesive, such as connectives, ellipses and the use of space in a text.

A mutual and reciprocal exchange of meaning.

Communicative competence
An acquired capability to understand and interact in context using the target language (TL). Defined by the use of appropriate phonological, lexical, grammatical, sociolinguistic and intercultural elements.

A form of adjective used to compare one thing with another, such as TALL versus MORE TALL.

An active process of making/constructing/deciphering the meaning of language input through listening, reading, viewing, touching (as in braille or tactile signing) and through combinations of these modes. It involves elements of decoding, working out meaning, evaluating and imagining. The process draws upon the learner’s existing knowledge and understanding, text–processing strategies and capabilities; for example, making inferences or applying knowledge of text types and social and cultural resources.

A type of word or sign that joins signs, phrases or clauses together such as BUT or OR.

A means of linking a group of signs to whatever comes before, such as S-O or the gesture G:WELL.

Constructed action (CA) (also called role-shift)
A discourse strategy used in signed languages when signers use their own face and body to represent actions, signs, thoughts or feelings of a referent in a text. The referent can be themselves at another time, a different character, or something thought of as an animate entity.

Conventionalised sign
A sign or sequence of signs that has developed and become established over time to have an agreed meaning; for example, lexicalised depicting signs such as MEET or LINE-UP.

A collection of texts that have been annotated to be machine-readable and can be analysed; for example, Auslan, BSL and NGT corpora that have been collected and are available online.

Develop and/or produce signed, spoken, written or multimodal texts in live, print or digital forms.

Sources of information used to facilitate comprehension of language that may be visual, grammatical, gestural or contextual.

Disability Discrimination Act.

When referring to deaf people who belong to a linguistic and cultural minority known as the Deaf community, the ‘D’ may be capitalised in reference to the individual, the group, or the culture in order to accord respect and deference, for example, the Deaf community. This is similar to referring to French people, members of the Macedonian community or Indonesian culture. When referring simply to audiological status or when cultural affiliation is not known, as in the case of a person with a hearing loss in general, the lower case ‘d’, as in ‘deaf’, is the more common usage.

Deaf community
A local, national or transnational network of people who share the language and culture of Deaf people and a history of common experiences. A primary unifying factor in Deaf communities is the use of sign language.

Deaf culture
The beliefs, values, traditions, history, social norms, literary traditions and art shared by deaf people who belong to the Deaf community. Culture is understood as a framework in which things come to be seen as having meaning. It involves the lens through which people:
• see, think, interpret the world and experience
• make assumptions about self and others
• understand and represent individual and community identity.

Culture involves understandings about ‘norms’ and expectations, which shape perspectives and attitudes. It can be defined as social practices, patterns of behaviour and organisational processes and perspectives associated with the values, beliefs and understandings shared by members of a community or cultural group. Language, culture and identity are closely interrelated and involved in the shaping and expression of each other. The intercultural orientation to language teaching and learning is informed by this understanding.

Deaf ecosystem
A network of businesses, services and connections owned or managed by deaf people in positions of influence and authority, who share this social or political capital with other deaf people in culturally appropriate ways, so contributing to the status and social connectedness of the larger Deaf community. Examples of such reciprocity and support include sponsorship, profile-raising, the sharing of skills, expertise and knowledge, status support and social entrepreneurship opportunities.

‘Deaf eyes’
A reference by some scholars to the cultural lens through which the world may be viewed by a Deaf person. It can also refer to deaf people’s ability to process simultaneous information through enhanced peripheral vision, as deaf people rely on a wider range of acute visual input rather than sound.

Deaf family
A family in which deaf people appear in two or more consecutive generations. Deaf families have a crucial role in Deaf communities as they carry linguistic and cultural knowledge and expertise between generations, and disseminate this knowledge among other deaf individuals within their community, most of whom rely on peer-to-peer transmission of sign language and Deaf culture.

Deaf gain
A term used to reframe the term ‘deaf’, from the traditional pathological perspective of ‘hearing loss’ often held by wider society to a view of deafness through the lens of bicultural diversity. Being deaf is seen as an individual and social gain and as a positive form of diversity that involves cognitive and sensory changes that have the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity.

The term coined by Dr. Paddy Ladd to describe the process by which deaf individuals become self-actualised; the journey they travel to develop their Deaf identity and to maximise their potential.

Deaf interpreter
A specialist who provides interpreting and translation services, often working between a signed language, a form of a spoken/written language, another signed language or other visual and tactile communication forms. As a deaf person, the Deaf Interpreter has a distinct set of formative linguistic, cultural and life experiences that enables more nuanced comprehension and interaction in interpreted events than is possible for most hearing sign language interpreters.

Deaf place
A site of historical or cultural significance in the Deaf community; usually connected with traditional meeting places of deaf people, such as schools or centres of regular social, religious or sporting gatherings. A Deaf place may continue to have cultural and historical significance for the community when no longer used for its original purpose or formally owned by deaf organisations. Deaf places are often sites where sign languages and Deaf culture are learned, as most deaf people do not learn them from deaf families at home.

Deaf space
A space in which deaf people feel comfortable interacting and using signed language. Deaf space can encompass established Deaf place(s) or spaces which have been customized to enhance visual access for deaf people, for example with good lighting, clear sightlines and architectural or design features which allow deaf people to navigate, communicate and elicit environmental and social information easily. Classrooms and workspaces can be modified to incorporate Deaf space design principles.

A capacity to step outside familiar frames of reference, to consider alternative views, experiences and perspectives and to look critically and objectively at one’s own linguistic and cultural behaviour.

Definite/indefinite reference
A referent may be marked as definite when it is clear from context which particular referent is being discussed. It is marked as indefinite if it is being mentioned for the first time or the signer does not mean any particular referent.

Depicting sign (DS)
A partly lexical sign that is highly iconic and can be modified in a gradient way by a signer. Depicting signs can act as verbs or nouns depending on their use in context.

Entity depicting signs are those in which the handshape represents an object, and the object can move around or be located in space mirroring real-world movement and location.

Handling depicting signs are those where the handshape represents how a human hand holds or touches an object and the movement shows how something is moved around or located in space

Size and shape specifiers (SASS) depicting signs are depicting signs in which the handshape and movement are used to outline the size or shape of an object. The handshape is formed as if handling the actual entity being described (or a miniature of it) and the movement is a mirror of the hands, as if they are tracing the size and shape of the object.

A variant of a language that is characteristic of a region or social group.

Digital texts
Audio, visual or multimodal texts produced through digital or electronic technology which may be interactive and include animations and/or hyperlinks. Examples of digital texts include DVDs, websites, online literature and presentations.

Directional indicating verbs
See Indicating verbs.

Discourse marker
Words used to direct the flow of a signed text that indicate how something relates to something earlier or how a signer feels about what they are signing.

A free software program that allows a user to document, analyse and annotate multimedia recordings of sign language, spoken language and gesture.

A person in the Deaf community afforded leadership or mentorship status by the community. Elders are typically deaf people who have been custodians of the Deaf community’s traditions, language and cultural values and are widely considered role models and respected mentors by many members of the Deaf community. They include pioneers of advocacy, education and community development, and those who have contributed to the leadership, advancement and achievement of the Deaf community.

Showing or constructing the action, thoughts or language of a referent using the whole body or part of the body. Enactments are context-dependent for meaning.

Entity depicting signs
See Depicting signs.

The study of the origins of words or signs: that is, where they came from historically.

A social philosophy advocating improvement of the human population through genetic intervention, either by discouraging the reproduction of those with perceived less desirable traits, for example by sterilization, genetic selection, or in extreme cases by killing those with the trait, or by encouraging the reproduction of those with perceived desirable traits. At various times and places in history Deaf people have been subject to eugenic beliefs and practices.

Eye gaze
The direction in which a signer is looking, which can have conventional associated meanings in Auslan, such as marking a shift into character in Constructed Action.

A sign or gesture used in conversation to signal a pause, hesitation or unfinished contribution. For example, wriggling fingers with hands upheld.

The manual representation of the letters of the alphabet of a spoken-language. In Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, a two-handed fingerspelling system is used to fingerspell English letters. In many other countries, a one-handed fingerspelling system is used.

An ability to produce signed, spoken or written language with appropriate phrasing, rhythm and pace. It involves the smooth flow of language, lack of hesitation or undue pausing and characterises the largely accurate use and automatisation of the target language.

FM systems
Systems that operate on a special radio frequency and allow the transmitter microphone used by a speaker, such as a classroom teacher, to channel sound directly to the hearing aid worn by a deaf person within range of the system. Reduction of background noise in the setting and channeling of the voice directly to the hearing aid enables the FM user to hear the speaker more clearly.

Formational elements of signs
The elements of the structure of signs; the physical way they are formed. (See Parameters).

Frozen texts
Texts of a static nature that are usually culturally embedded, such as the Australian national anthem.

Fully-lexical signs
Signs with a form that is fully specified, that is, the handshape, movement and location are conventional. Lexical signs make up a large proportion of the signs in a sign language dictionary.

The description of language as a system. In describing language, attention is paid to both structure (form) and meaning (function) at the level of the sign/word, the sentence and the text.

A way of communicating with the hands that uses largely unconventional forms (except for conventional gestures such as the thumbs up for good), and that represents more imagistic thought of a speaker or signer. In spoken languages, gestures co-occur with speech, and in signed languages they form gestural overlays.

A form of annotating signed languages, as they have no written form in the traditional sense. The gloss conventions used in the Auslan curriculum for sign notations are based on Johnson and Schembri (2007) and include the following elements: The English gloss of a sign written in upper-case letters (most commonly associated or nearest translation of the sign in English); lexical matching (where one sign uses a number of English words to gloss its meaning, they are joined together, eg LOOK-BACK); fingerspelling (shown by S-P-A-C-I-N-G); the use of ‘G:’ to signal gesture; the abbreviation of personal pronouns (PRO1, PRO2) and possessives (POSS1, POSS2); referral to pointing signs as PT; depicting signs (DS[handshape label]: description of what is depicted); indication of reduplication by the symbol ‘+’; and the use of a bar above a sign to show NMFs.

Handling DSs
See Depicting signs.

The conventional form of the hand in a sign.

Horizontal language transmission
The term used to describe the process by which deaf children born into hearing families and whose parents do not know sign language learn the language. Typically children learn language through the process of vertical transmission, from the preceding, older, generation who share the language. This is less common for deaf children, who often acquire sign language from deaf peers, particularly those who come from deaf families.

The relationship between a word or sign and the thing it represents, such as the sign for BABY looking like a person rocking a baby in their arms.

Fully-transparent sign - A sign with a visual-relationship so clear that non-signers could guess the meaning, such as the sign for DRINK, where the handshape looks like a person holding a cup and drinking.

Translucent sign - A sign with some relationship between form and meaning but not obvious to a non-signer, such as the sign for FLOWER.

Arbitrary sign - A sign that has no relationship to the referent, such as the sign for THING.

A person’s conception and expression of individuality or group affiliation, self-concept and self-representation. Identity is closely connected to both culture and language. Thinking and talking about the self is influenced by the cultural frames offered by different languages and cultural systems. Identity is not fixed. Language learners’ experiences with different linguistic and cultural systems introduces them to alternative ways of considering the nature and the possibilities associated with identity and community affiliation.

Indicating verbs
A subset of verbs which can have their start or end location modified or be moved around in space to show who, what or where is involved in the verb.
directional indicating verbs can be moved meaningfully in space
locatable indicating verbs cannot change direction but can be meaningfully signed in a non-neutral location.

Intercultural capability
An ability to understand and to engage in relationship between language, culture and people from diverse backgrounds and experience. This involves understanding the dynamic and interdependent nature of both language and culture, that communicating and interacting in different languages involves interacting with values, beliefs and experiences as well as with signs, words and grammars. An intercultural capability involves being open to different perspectives, being flexible and curious, responsive and reflective; being able to de-centre, to look objectively at one’s own cultural ways of thinking and behaving, and at how these affect attitudes to others, shade assumptions and shape behaviours. Characteristics of an intercultural capability include cognitive and communicative flexibility and an orientation and ability to act in ways that are inclusive and ethical in relation to diversity and difference.

Intercultural language teaching and learning
An orientation to language teaching and learning that informs current curriculum design; framed by the understanding that language and culture are dynamic, interconnected systems of meaning-making; that proficiency in an additional language involves cultural and intercultural as well as linguistic capabilities. The focus is on developing communicative proficiency and on moving between language–culture systems. It includes the reflexive and reciprocal dimension of attention to learners’ own language(s) and cultural frame(s).

A class of word or sign that occur on their own and express an emotion such as WOW or SURPRISE.

International sign
A pidgin form of communication used, for example, by deaf people at international gatherings when there is no shared sign language known by all participants. An organised system of signs, gestures and non-manual signals that consist of some conventional lexical items and a number of borrowed elements from several signed languages, including highly visually motivated forms of signs and gestures. International Sign is endorsed by the World Federation of the Deaf.

In the context of school based language learning, interpret refers to two distinct processes:
• the act of translation from one language to another
• the process of understanding and explaining; the ability to conceive significance and construct meaning, and to explain to self or others.

Irish Sign Language.

A human cognitive and communicative capability which makes it possible to communicate, to create and comprehend meaning, to build and sustain relationships, to represent and shape knowledge, and to imagine, analyse, express and evaluate.

Language is described and employed:
• as code – comprising systems, rules, a fixed body of knowledge; for example, grammar and vocabulary, sound, sign, gesture and writing systems
• as social practice – used to do things, create relationships, interact with others, represent the world and the self; to organise social systems and practices in dynamic, variable, and changing ways
• as cultural and intercultural practice – means by which communities construct and express their experience, values, beliefs and aspiration
• as cognitive process – means by which ideas are shaped, knowledge is constructed, and analysis and reflection are structured.

Language building
Activities and tasks that contribute to building archives from data of authentic language samples to help protect a language and culture and to expand understanding of usage.

Language comprehension
A process of interpreting meaning from signed, spoken, written, tactile and multimodal representations of language.

Language functions
Varied ways in which language is used to achieve particular purposes; for example, to persuade, to entertain, to apologise, to argue or to compliment.

Language health and vitality
The extent of the demand and the use of a language in the community and projections for its future usage. A language that is spoken or signed by a larger number of users and is available in several domains of use in society is likely to be more healthy and to have greater vitality and survival prospects.

Language preservation and revitalization
The effort made to prevent languages from becoming endangered or unknown, for example, by increasing the number of users of the language, creating resources and documenting the language to preserve it.

Language systems
Elements that organise and represent how a language works, including the phonological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic systems of signs and rules that underpin language use. These systems have to be internalised for effective communication and comprehension.

Language transmission
The way a language is passed on, for example through speech, writing and signing, from one generation to the next (vertical transmission) or from peer to peer (horizontal transmission).

Lexical signs
See Fully-lexical signs.

Non-body-anchored signs
Signs that are made in neutral space and do not make contact with a location on the body. These signs can easily be moved around in space.

The process through which a non-lexical or partly-lexical sign becomes frequent enough to become a fully-lexical sign with a conventional meaning and form listed in a dictionary.

List buoys
A sign where the fingers on the non-dominant hand are used to represent the items in a list while the dominant hand signs something about those items.

Locational indicating verbs
See Indicating verbs.

Words or phrases that tell a place or location.

A type of adverb that tells how something happens.

Vocabulary used to discuss language conventions and use (for example, language used to talk about grammatical terms, such as sentence, clause, conjunction; or about the social and cultural nature of language, such as reciprocating, register).

The use of a conceptual idea to describe another idea, such as thinking of time in terms of space.

Metaphorical iconicity
The use of metaphor to allow iconic signs to represent abstract concepts; for example, the sign REMEMBER is iconic, in that it shows holding something in the head, but metaphorical because thoughts are not physical objects that can be held in the head.

The complete or partial articulation of a spoken word while signing, occurring without voice. This does not include mouth gestures, such as ‘pah’, which are not mouthings of English words.

Multi-channel signs
The small number of signs that often occur with a particular mouth movement. Although such mouth movement is often described as obligatory, recent research shows that they do not always occur with a mouth gesture or with the same mouth gesture each time.

Name sign
A sign used to uniquely identify a person, typically bestowed by a member of the Deaf community, and agreed upon by the individual.

A story of events or experiences, real or imagined.

Native signers
Signers who have one or more deaf family members and have therefore had access to Auslan from birth, meeting expected milestones for the natural acquisition of language in infancy and early childhood.

Native-like signers
Fluent signers who have used Auslan as their primary language since their early school years, and/or demonstrate native-like levels of proficiency in the language.

Non-lexical signs
Symbolic units of meaning that are created on the spot in a particular context, particularly in constructed action but also gesturing. These signs cannot be listed in a dictionary.

Non-manual features (NMF)
Meaningful elements of a signed message involving any part of the body other than the hands.

National Week of Deaf People; a week of cultural celebrations and festivals organised by Deaf Australia, designed to raise awareness of the Deaf community and to celebrate Deaf pride, Auslan, and the life and culture of deaf people.

New Zealand Sign Language.

Numeral incorporation
Changing the handshape of a sub-set of time signs to include a number, such as TWO-WEEKS-ago or IN-TWO-YEARS.

Observer space:
See Frames of reference.

A philosophy with an emphasis on teaching deaf children to communicate using speech; to depend on lip-reading and amplification devices rather than using sign language.
The direction the palm or fingers of a handshape point in a given sign.

The understanding that a natural sign language belongs primarily to the Deaf community from which it evolved. Historical oppression and marginalisation of Auslan users have created cultural and political sensitivities regarding the use, planning, teaching and research of signed languages. Deaf people, as custodians of Auslan, have primary authenticity in matters concerning their language and culture.

The five physical features that describe how a single sign is produced: handshape, movement and location (main parameters), and orientation of handshape and non-manual features (minor parameters).

Partly-lexical signs
Signs with a form that is not fully specified that is, the handshape, movement and/or location can change, as in the case of pointing signs (direction or handshape can be modified), or depicting signs (movement and location are often created on the spot).

Path movements
Movement of the hands from one location in space to another while producing a sign.

Pathological model of deafness
The view that deafness is solely a pathology or medical deficit, to be ameliorated by medical or technological interventions and intensive habilitation of speech and audition. The pathological model discourages the use of signed languages and of educational or social settings which bring deaf people together.

People of the Eye
A term that references the highly visual nature of deaf people.

Perceptual systems
The visual and kinesthetic means by which signers receive/produce signs

The use of the language in real situations, putting language knowledge into practice. Performance involves accuracy, fluency and complexity.

The study of how context affects communication, for example, in relation to the status of participants, the situation in which the communication is happening or the intention of the speaker.

Productive language use
One of the two elements of communication through language (see Receptive language), involving the ability to express, articulate and produce utterances or texts in the target language.

Changes in facial expression and other NMFs, such as the duration of signs, eye-gaze, head and torso position, pausing with or without a hold of a sign, tension of hands and eye closure; used for many purposes, such as to mark clauses and their relationships, to accentuate or diminish emphasis and to regulate turn-taking.

Principles and customs which guide behaviour; systems of cultural and social rules specific to a linguistic and cultural community.
The use of space, posture and touch as elements of communication.

A clause structured to elicit information. Questions can be categorised as either closed or open in terms of the information required to answer them:
• Closed questions require predictable answers; for example: What time is it? Do you like cats?
• Open questions have unknown and unpredictable answers that invite and support more elaborated and extended contributions from learners; for example, What do you think about that?
Questions can be structured as either yes-no or wh- questions, which require different non-manual features

- Yes-no questions are closed questions for which the response can only be yes or no
- Wh- questions can be closed or open questions, but include the signs WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW, HOW-MUCH, or HOW-MANY?

A strategy frequently used as an instructional technique, where the teacher repeats a student’s incorrect construction back to the student in correct form; a naturalistic repair of the language learner’s error, modelling the correct version in a manner that encourages continued communication.

Receptive language
One of the two components of communication through language (see Productive language): the ‘receiving’ aspect of language input, the gathering of information and making of meaning via viewing, listening and reading processes.

An integrating element of intercultural communication that involves movement and relationship, interpreting and creating meaning, and understanding the process of doing so. It involves not only the exchange of words but also an exchange of understanding between the people involved. It comes into play when the learner ‘self’ encounters and interacts with the ‘other’ (the target language speaker or the target language itself as text or experience); when the existing language code and cultural frame encounters a different code and frame. This experience impacts on the learner’s perspective and sense of identity and on their usual ways of communicating and exchanging language and values. Reciprocating involves conscious attention to the process: attention to the self (intraculturality) and to the likely impact of the self on the other person involved (interculturality). Things previously taken for granted are noticed in reference to new or different ways.

Key elements of reciprocating include conscious attention, comparison, reflection and analysis:
• recognition that both partners in an exchange are involved in the ‘effort of meaning’
• willingness to work out what the other person means, the cultural and social context they are speaking from and the perspectives which frame what they are saying
• making necessary adjustments to their own and each other’s input, orientation and stance that will help the exchange to be successful
• exchange of goods, services and knowledge in a culturally valued transaction within the Deaf community.

The person or thing being talked about with a sign or phrase

A variety of language used for a particular purpose or in a particular situation, the variation being defined by use as well as user. For example, informal register or academic register.

See Depicting signs.

Support provided to assist the learning process or to complete a learning task. Scaffolded language support involves using the target language at a level slightly beyond learners’ current level of performance, and involves incremental increasing and decreasing of assistance. Task support provides assistance to perform just beyond what learners can currently do unassisted, to progress to being able to do the task independently. Scaffolding includes modelling and structuring input in ways that provide additional cues or interactive questioning to activate existing knowledge, probe existing conceptions or cue noticing and reflecting.

The simultaneous watching and copying/shadowing of a signed text.

Sign language families
Small groups of sign languages that have a high rate of similarity in their lexicons due to historical origins or geographic relationships; for example, BANZSL.

An online Auslan language resource, including a dictionary of signs organised according to the structure of Auslan, information on Auslan, links to Auslan classes, inbuilt search features to explore setting-specific signs such as medical or educational signs, and links to video clips and signed examples in Auslan.

Signed English
Australasian Signed English was an artificial system of producing each part of English on the hands; developed by a committee in the 1970s for the purposes of teaching deaf children. Signed English is not widely used in the Deaf community and is not actively taught in schools today; however, it has significantly influenced the lexicon of Auslan in some age groups and regions.

Signed languages
Visual-gestural languages which evolve naturally in Deaf communities, through which signers use conventional and mutually agreed-upon symbols (signs) to communicate with each other. Signed languages have their own grammar and lexicon. They are not based on the spoken language of the country or region where the community is located. Signed languages are not universal. They are real languages, with a complete set of linguistic structures; complex and highly nuanced, as sophisticated as natural spoken languages.

Sign language acronyms
National and regional signed languages are commonly referred to in the form of acronyms, for example: DGS - Deutsche Gebärdensprache (German Sign Language); BSL - British Sign Language; LSF - Langue de Signes Française (French Sign Language). A full list of acronyms and languages is available on Ethnologue.

Signing space
The area around a signer in which signs are articulated and can be modified.

Sociocultural model of deafness
The view that deaf people form a linguistic and cultural minority group comparable to other linguistic minorities. This viewpoint does not see deafness as a medical deficit or pathological condition. Although it may encompass the use of assistive listening devices and a range of communication options, it places high value on the use of signed languages and Deaf community networks.

Spatial mapping
The use by signers of the space around themselves to locate referents in discourse; the process of allocating a referent to a location, in order to keep track of who, what or where is being discussed.

Spatial modification
Changing a sign to point towards referents present in the environment or towards locations in the space around the signer associated with absent referents.

A type of adjective used when comparing more than two things and identifying one that has the most of a feature, such as SMALL versus WORST SMALL or MOST SMALL.

Teaching team
Two or more teachers or instructors who combine their skills, knowledge and experience to develop and implement lessons in the classroom. In the context of teaching Auslan, a combination of a deaf and a hearing teacher may be linguistically and culturally appropriate, should a suitably skilled deaf teacher of Auslan not be available to work on their own.

An identified stretch of language used as a means for communication or as the focus of learning and investigation. Text forms and conventions have developed to support communication with a variety of audiences in different contexts for a range of purposes. Texts can be signed, written, spoken or multimodal and in print or digital/online forms. Multimodal texts combine language with other systems of communication, such as print text, visual images, soundtrack, signs and/or spoken word, as in film or computer presentation media.

Textual cohesion
See Cohesion.

Time marker
A sign that refers to when an event occurred.

Moving a sign or group of signs to the beginning of a clause to make it more prominent. In Auslan this is usually accompanied by particular non-manual features.

A process of translating signs/words/text from one language into another, recognising that the process involves movement of meanings and attention to cultural context as well as the transposition of individual words.

Writing a letter, sign or word using the closest corresponding letter, sign or word from a different language or alphabet.

Visual-gestural languages
Signed languages are described as visual-gestural because they are received through vision and signed with hands, compared to spoken languages which are described as auditory-oral languages, as they are received through hearing and spoken with the mouth. The term is not equating signed languages with gesture in general.

Visual vernacular
A highly visual form of performance often incorporated into story telling which uses features of mime, gesture, NMFs and specific cinematic techniques in the production of signs. Techniques include close and distant focus, dissolving of visual images and cutting between scenes, objects and characters, and time distortion in the three dimensional delivery of visually presented information.

A common term for a video blog. As Auslan is a visual language, signers may choose to post online in Auslan via video rather than posting in written English.

The common protocol in an Auslan class to not use voice, as use of spoken English while signing can interfere with the acquisition of quality Auslan. The directive usually given to students is ‘voice-off’.

Video Relay Service: A video relay uses visual technology to allow deaf users of Auslan to communicate over the telephone with hearing people via a VRS interpreter.

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Auslan Glossary meaning of terms


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Auslan Glossary meaning of terms



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Auslan Glossary meaning of terms