Fingerspelling is a category of American Sign Language (ASL) signs that are signed sequentially as an alphabetic representation. The present study proposes to examine the coarticulation and feature-spreading characteristics of fingerspelling. A preliminary study identified feature categories to be examined. In keeping with these results and feature categories, three hypotheses were constructed: (1) anticipatory effects are more common than perseverative effects, (2) coarticulation is most prevalent word medially, rather than word initially or word finally, and (3) larger articulators show spreading more often than smaller articulators and spread across multiple handshapes. To test these hypotheses, five fluent ASL fingerspellers were recorded and the data was examined in reference to these three hypotheses. After analysis of this data, the first hypothesis was found to be supported. The second hypothesis was strengthened by this data. The third hypothesis developed from a simple division of large articulators versus small articulators into a complex hierarchy of features. These findings are discussed in terms of frequency patterns, physiological constraints, and spoken coarticulation models.
American Sign Language, fingerspelling, coarticulation, phonology, sign language, coarticulation model, handshape, reduction
Level of Degree
Department of Linguistics
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Wilcox, Phyllis Perrin
Channer, Caitlin S.. "Coarticulation in American Sign Language Fingerspelling." (2012). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ling_etds/8