Building the British Sign Language Corpus

Schembri, Adam
Fenlon, Jordan
Rentelis, Ramas
Reynolds, Sally
Cormier, Kearsy
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University of Hawaii Press
This paper presents an overview of the British Sign Language Corpus Project—the first endeavor to create a machine-readable digital corpus of British Sign Language (BSL) collected from deaf signers across the United Kingdom. In the field of sign language studies, it represents a unique combination of methodology from variationist sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics. Unlike previous large-scale sign language sociolinguistic projects, the dataset is being annotated and tagged using ELAN software, given metadata descriptions, and the video data has been made accessible, with long-term efforts to make the dataset searchable on-line. This means, however, that participants must consent to having the video data of their sign language use made public. This puts at risk the authenticity of the linguistic data collected, as signers may monitor their production more carefully than usual. We discuss our attempt to minimize this problem by creating a dual-access archive.
British Sign Language, Corpus linguistics, Sociolinguistics, ELAN software, Digital archive
Schembri, Adam, Jordan Fenlon, Ramas Rentelis, Sally Reynolds & Kearsy Cormier. 2013. Building the British Sign Language Corpus. Language Documentation & Conservation. 7: 136-154.
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