Compiling a Sign Language Dictionary: Some of the Problems faced by the Sign Language Lexicographer

Jette Hedegaard Kristoffersen, Thomas Troelsgård

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As we began working on the Danish Sign Language (DTS) Dictionary, we soon realised the truth in the statement that a lexicographer has to deal with problems within almost any linguistic discipline. Most of these problems come down to establishing simple rules, rules that can easily be applied every time you encounter a specific problem while describing a sign, and that enables the lexicographer to consistently answer questions like "what is the base form of this sign?", "how many meanings does this sign have?", "are these two forms two different meanings of the same polysemous sign – or are they homonyms?" and so on. Very often such questions demand further research and can't be answered sufficiently through a simple standard formula. Therefore lexicographic work often seems like an endless series of compromises.
Another source of compromise arises when you set out to decide which information to include in the dictionary. This depends of course on the target user group, but when you aim at fulfilling the needs of several different user groups, which is what an all-round dictionary must do, you easily risk falling between not two, but several stools. When editing the DTS Dictionary we often face this dilemma, as we see DTS learners and teachers as well as native DTS signers as our target users.
In the following we will focus on four problem areas with particular relevance for the sign language lexicographer: Sign representation Spoken languague equivalents and mouth movements Example sentences Partial equivalence
TitelSign Language Teaching and Learning : Papers from the 1st Symposium in Applied Sign Linguistics (Applied Sign Linguistics)
RedaktørerMaria Mertzani
Antal sider9
ForlagUniversity of Bristol, Centre for Deaf Studies
ISBN (Trykt)978-0956674203
StatusUdgivet - 2010
BegivenhedSymposium in Applied Sign Linguistics - University of Bristol, Centre for Deaf Studies, Bristol, Storbritannien
Varighed: 24 sep. 200926 sep. 2009
Konferencens nummer: 1


KonferenceSymposium in Applied Sign Linguistics
LokationUniversity of Bristol, Centre for Deaf Studies
NavnApplied sign linguistics


  • Medier, kommunikation og sprog
  • Dictionary
  • Leksikografi
  • Lexicography
  • Ordbog
  • Ordbog over Dansk Tegnsprog
  • Sign Language
  • Teaching sign language
  • Tegnsprog
  • The Danish Sign Language Dictionary
  • Undervisning i tegnsprog
  • Uddannelse, professioner og erhverv
  • Tegnsprog
  • ODTS: Ordbog over Dansk Tegnsprog

    Troelsgård, T., Pedersen, M. J., Hårdell, A. K. S., Kristoffersen, J. H., Abildgaard, E. & Kjeldsen, K. K.

    01/08/03 → …

    Projekter: ProjektForskning