DASL is fifty years old!

This figure shows how the ASL sign for A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, known as DASL in the field, was written by William Stokoe, Dorothy Casterline and Carl Croneberg in 1965. This dictionary is now fifty years old. This book was ground-breaking in that it described signs using formational elements (handshape, location and movement) thus demonstrating the transformational idea that signs were made up of discrete parts just like words were made up of discrete sounds. DASL has had a profound impact on signed language research.

One example of this impact is Stokoe Notation, which is described in DASL. Stokoe Notation is how someone can represent signs on paper. A short guide to this is available here. While Stokoe Notation has well-known problems as a representational device (e.g., Hochgesang 2015 ), it is the first of its kind and served as inspiration for other representational systems (e.g., HamNoSys, SLPA, etc).

To celebrate DASL’s 50th year, we will be occasionally posting notations of ASL signs on our department’s Twitter account.

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