About ASL-LEX

ASL-LEX is a database of lexical and phonological properties that have been compiled for nearly 1,000 signs of American Sign Language.

It contains:
  • Frequency ratings
  • Iconicity ratings
  • Lexical properties (e.g., initialized signs, lexical class)
  • Phonological coding (6 features)
  • Neighborhood density calculations
  • English translation
  • Alternative translations (for a subset of signs)
  • Reference video clip

Formats

ASL-LEX is available as a searchable web interface and as raw data in spreadsheet form.

  • Instructions for Using the Visualization

    This website provides a searchable, interactive visualization of the ~1,000 ASL signs contained in the ASL-LEX database.

  • Signs as Nodes

    In this visualization, each sign is represented as a node. Higher frequency signs have larger nodes while lower frequency signs are smaller. Signs that are phonologically related--called phonological 'neighbors'--are connected to each other with edges.

    Note on Phonological Relatedness

    The ASL-LEX visualization uses 4 primary phonological features to determine phonological relatedness. Because this is not a complete phonological description, some signs that intuitively are not very phonologically similar may be shown as neighbors, connected to each other in the network.
  • Search

    To search for individual signs, enter the English translation of the sign in the Search tab of the navigation pane in the top left of the screen. If more than one sign or English translation matches what you have typed, you will see a list of words to select from. Once a sign has been selected, its node will be centered and information about the sign will appear in the Sign Data tab at the top left of the screen.

    Note on English Glosses (Translations)

    The primary purposes of the glosses used in this database (called “EntryID” glosses in the database) are to uniquely identify each sign in the database and to provide a convenient way to search for signs. While these glosses were selected to evoke the meaning of the signs, they may not be accurate translations as meanings can change with context.
  • Navigation

    Users can zoom in and out of the visualization using the + and - magnifying glass icons at right side of the screen. Users can also pan around the visualization by clicking anywhere and dragging. Clicking on a node will center the visualization on that node and will cause information about that sign to appear in the Sign Data table. The visualization may be reset to its original form by clicking the empty magnifying glass.

  • Filters

    In addition to searching for specific signs, signs can be filtered by any of the properties listed in the database. This allows users to find all signs matching a particular set of properties, for example all signs with Frequency > 5. To filter by property, click on the Filter tab and specify the desired values for desired properties. Information about individual properties can be accessed by clicking on the About Filters link at the top of the Filter tab.

    Once filter values are set, only the nodes that match those properties will remain colored in the visualization; signs that do not match the criteria will have their nodes greyed out.

    To restore all of the signs, click the Remove Filters link at the top of the filters tab.

  • Downloading data

    Once a node is selected, its lexical information is displayed in the Sign Data tab at the top left.

    To download data, click the download button at the top right corner of the visualization. Select the properties that you would like to be included and decide whether you would like these data for all signs or only the signs that meet the current Filter criteria.

Download Data

The ASL-LEX database is available for download in .csv format from the Open Science Framework.

License

The raw ASL-LEX data are available under a CC-By-NC license, meaning you can reuse and remix this content with attribution for non-commercial purposes. To cite it, please use the following:

Caselli, N., Sevcikova, Z., Cohen-Goldberg, A., Emmorey, K. (2016). ASL-Lex: A Lexical Database for ASL. Behavior Research Methods. doi:10.3758/s13428-016-0742-0.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Publications and Presentations

Article Describing ASL-LEX

This article describes the procedures used to create the database, reports descriptive statistics for a number of sign properties, and reports analyses designed to more deeply understand how phonological, lexical, and semantic factors interact in the ASL lexicon.

Caselli, N., Sevcikova, Z., Cohen-Goldberg, A. M., & Emmorey, K. (2016). ASL-Lex: A Lexical Database for ASL. Behavior Research Methods. doi:10.3758/s13428-016-0742-0

Articles Citing ASL-LEX

  • Caselli, N. & Pyers, J. (in press). The road to language learning is not entirely iconic: Iconicity, neighborhood density, and frequency facilitate sign language acquisition. Psychological Science. (preprint: https://open.bu.edu/handle/2144/20655)
  • Magid, R. W. & Pyers, J. E. (in press). "I use it when I see it": The role of development and experience in Deaf and hearing children's understanding of iconic gesture. Cognition. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.015
  • Emmorey, K., Mehta, S., McCullough, S., & Grabowski, T. J. (2016). The neural circuits recruited for the production of signs and fingerspelled words. Brain and Language, 160, 30-41. doi:10.1016/j.bandl.2016.07.003

Please let us know if you cite or otherwise make use of ASL-LEX in your research/teaching!

 

 

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