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Sherman Wilcox
04-21-1992, 11:45 PM
I have been reading and enjoying Biomechanics and Movement Science for
well over a year now. I wonder if I could ask other readers a question.

I do research on sign language (specifically American Sign Language)
and fingerspelling -- the communication used by deaf people. A
colleague and I would like to break away from structuralist/abstract
models of sign language formation (what spoken language linguists call
phonology) and approach the issue from an articulatory phonetics
perspective.

In order to do this, we would like to gain a better understanding of
the kinematics and biomechanics of the hand and arms -- what is
happening, on a muscular level, when a certain hand configuration is
made, or when the arm/hand is moved a certain way.

Can anyone recommend a text that might help us in acquiring some of
the basic knowledge to begin our enterprise?

If we wanted to classify signs (words) and their component parts in
gestural terms, what might be some primitives _above_ the level of
muscle firing? E.g., might something like ballistic vs. controlled etc
be useful (or are there better terms/concepts)?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.
--
Sherman Wilcox
Dept. of Linguistics
University of New Mexico