British Sign Language Corpus

Submitted by kearsy_cormier on Mon, 07/22/2019 - 11:59

The British Sign Language (BSL) Corpus is a collection of video clips showing Deaf people using BSL, together with background information about the signers and written descriptions of the signing in the multimedia annotation tool ELAN. The video clips were collected as part of the original BSL Corpus Project, funded between 2008 and 2011 by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The BSL Corpus is based at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL), University College London. The BSL Corpus is a publicly accessible, on-line record of BSL used by Deaf people in the UK. We know that BSL is changing rapidly due to changes in the Deaf community, so it is important that we have a record for the future. In the past, sign language researchers carried out their research by filming Deaf people, but often the videotapes and the data collected was never shared with other researchers or with the Deaf community. Having the BSL corpus on-line means that anyone with a computer and an internet connection is able to see the video data and also background information about the signers involved. One aim of the BSL Corpus has been to enable high quality empirical research in British Sign Language. Linguistic research so far using the BSL Corpus has been published in top academic journals including PLOS One, Language, Glossa, Lingua, Open Linguistics, Language and Communication and Journal of Lexicography. Another aim is to allow for a greater exchange of ideas and information between sign language researchers in universities and the Deaf community. The BSL Corpus is leading to an improved understanding of BSL structure and use. This information is important for the education of Deaf children, for training sign language interpreters, and for BSL teachers. The BSL Corpus is considered by the ESRC to be one of their key data resources and infrastructure, as evidenced by the fact that it is one of only 39 datasets eligible for their Secondary Data Analysis Initiative funding (see Appendix 1 -…), and one of only two lingustics resources eligible for this funding, the other being the British National Corpus of English. The BSL Corpus also led directly to the first online, corpus-based dictionary of BSL to i.e. BSL SignBank ( ) which could potentially be considered a separate RII it its own right.


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