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Metaphor and Lexicon in Sign Languages: Analysis of the Hand-Opening Articulation in LSE and BSL

From: Sign Language Studies
Volume 14, Number 3, Spring 2014
pp. 302-332 | 10.1353/sls.2014.0009



I intend to study whether the gestural origins of signs allow us to explain some lexically expressed metaphorical meanings that have great potential in signed languages as organizers of lexical classes (Boyes-Braem 1981, 44). In particular, I will focus on two meaning schemas that are associated with hand-opening articulations. Using lexicographical data, I will confirm that they are present in two sign languages with no apparent connection, such as Spanish Sign Language (LSE) and British Sign Language (BSL). Obvious similarities are perceived in some of the lexemes, which are also expressed through similar articulatory means. In the case of LSE, the language from which my analysis stems, I will also have the opportunity to verify the existence of both metaphors as early as the nineteenth century since they are registered in the Fernández Villabrille dictionary (1851).

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