Language standardization and signed language dictionaries

Trevor Johnston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


The issue of the use of signed language dictionaries in the standardization of signed languages is discussed with reference to the Australian Sign Language (Auslan) dictionaries. First I describe language standardization as broadly understood in the context of written and unwritten languages, on the one hand, and signed and spoken languages on the other. I then describe the distinctive situation of deaf community signed languages and the types of dictionaries that have recently been produced of these languages and the limitations. I detail the structure of the Auslan dictionaries and argue that bilingual, bidirectional dictionaries of this type must be produced first if communities are to encourage language standardization in a meaningful and informed way. I conclude that the Internet provides a means of recording and displaying signed language lexicons in widely dispersed signing communities in a way that may facilitate language standardization in a grassroots manner, rather than being imposed on the community in the form of a prescriptive publication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-468
Number of pages38
JournalSign Language Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


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