It’s just a gay thing: A comparative kinematic analysis of gestures and signs in Israel

Rose Stamp, Adi Ben-Israel, Hagit Hel-Or, Shmuel Raz, David Cohn, Wendy Sandler

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Sign languages show considerably examples of lexical variation, systematically constrained by a number of social factors, such as age, region and language background (Stamp et al., 2014; Lucas et al., 2001). Despite this rich variation, few studies to date have found any example of accent variation – that is, variation in the way the sign is produced and constrained by the signer’s social background. One such study in American Sign Language claimed that there are motion-specific features, such as a larger volume of signing space, which are characteristic of the Black deaf community (McCaskill, Lucas, Bayley, & Hill, 2011). However, this study did not consider whether the features of this sign language ‘accent’ are unique to the signing Black community or whether they are just a feature of the wider hearing Black population (e.g., ‘gesturers’). Our study explores the motions produced by signers of Gay Sign Variant (GSV), a sign language accent used by gay male signers and identified across multiple sign languages (Blau, 2015; Rudner, 1981; Kleinfeld & Warner, 1996). In a preliminary study, we compared the kinematic motions of six gay Israeli Sign Language (ISL) signers and six straight ISL signers, using Microsoft Kinect motion-tracking technology. We found that there are differences between gay and straight ISL signers; signs produced by gay individuals were longer in distance travelled
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2020
EventLavender Languages and Linguistics Conference (LAVLANG27) -
Duration: 22 May 2021 → …


ConferenceLavender Languages and Linguistics Conference (LAVLANG27)
Period22/05/21 → …


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