Parameters of sign language are similar to speech sounds in spoken language. Changes in the parameter means that a different sign is produced in the same way that a change in sound means that a different word is being said. The 5 parameters of signed languages are explained below.
- Shape of the hand when a sign is produced.
- Hands are labelled dominant and non-dominant based on your handedness. If you write with your right hand, your dominant hand is the right hand.
- Handshape(s) may change when producing a sign.
- Direction in which the palm is facing with relation to the body, when making a sign.
- Palm may be facing in, out, sideways, up, or down. There are also signs whereby the hands are positioned diagonally.
- Orientation may change when making a sign.
- Signs are made within a signing space, usually from slightly above the head to the waist. This parameter refers to the location of the hand when signing within this space.
- These are the locations where signs are expressed:
- Non-dominant Hand
- Neutral Space
- Location may change when producing a sign.
- Way in which signs move when produced.
- There are 3 types of movement:
- Through a path whereby the hand moves to a different location.
- Local movement at the hand and wrist.
- Movement at the fingers.
- Not all signs involve movement.
Non-manual Markers (NMM):
- Grammatical and semantic features of sign language beyond the hand.
- Features include:
- Facial Expressions
- Head movement
- Body movement