Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Signing at the Speed of Speech

New research shows spoken English has more redundancy than the signed equivalent, helping to explain why sentences can be signed by interpreters in about the same time it takes to speak them. Scientists at Princeton University compared the fundamental unit of data of ASL (the handshape) to the fundamental units for spoken languages (phonemes). The results indicate that the information contained in the 45 handshapes making up ASL is higher than the amount of information contained in phonemes. Even though it takes longer to sign words, signers can keep up with speakers because the low redundancy rate compensates for the slower rate of signing.