Chapter_5_HochgesangLepicShaw_PrePrintVersion2.pdf (3.81 MB)

W(h)ither the ASL corpus?: Considering trends in signed corpus development

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posted on 2022-07-28, 16:08 authored by Julie HochgesangJulie Hochgesang, Ryan Lepic, Emily Shaw

Preprint of a chapter included in forthcoming book “Gaining ground in sign language corpus linguistics” edited by Ella Wehyrmeyer


In this chapter, we discuss some logistic and ideological practices that signed language corpus projects around the world have used to develop their corpora, starting with Johnston’s early call to develop signed language corpora in 2004. We then outline a brief history of existing ASL corpora or corpus-like collections, most of which are specialized and/or inaccessible. We unpack the lessons we have learned as we, North American linguists interested in signed language research and corpora, have sought to create a national-level corpus following the standards set by earlier projects. We end with a realization that our contexts are a bit different than those for existing signed language corpus projects, and describe projects that are doing what we think would be better suited for our ASL communities. In other words, our dreams of having a single national-level ASL corpus have “withered”, though we remain optimistic that corpus methods can be used to catalog and analyze the wealth of ASL signing data currently available.