SiLOrB Transcription

(Versión en español aquí.)

The SiLOrB transcription system divides the description of a sign into four parts: 1) hands, 2) location, 3) movement, and 4) non-manuals. (In the writing system and Dif0s, each of these parts describes a place on the grid.) Capital letter codes identify each section, followed by descriptors which are intended to be iconic where possible (e.g. ^ for ‘up’ or ‘high’). Each descriptor is given in the order presented below, according to its category. Many general codes can be applied to almost any description, such a repetition (#), when a hand crosses to the opposite side of the body ($), and changes from the beginning to the end of the sign (%). Each side can be indicated by ‘d’ or ‘nd’, and with ‘|’ for the center. Note that the Ø symbol is not a code; it signifies that a certain configuration (hand, location, movement, etc.) is the default, and does not require any further specification.

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Hands (D/ND)

Each hand can be described individually (D and ND) if they have different features, or they can be described together (DND) in a symmetrical sign. Groups of fingers with the same shape can be described together (e.g. 01t*234+), and if a value applies to all fingers and the thumb, fingers do not need to be specified (e.g. DV^+). If a finger is left unspecified, the default value is unextended (-). Note that inward and outward orientations reference a vertical center line (i.e. toward the opposite or same side as the hand), while forward and bodyward reference the signer’s body.

Changes are indicated by %, followed by the new configuration. Only the changes need to be specified, but orientations must always include palm and finger values. For example, ‘D^V1+%vV’ indicates that the palm changes from up (^) to down (v), but finger orientation (V) and position (1+) stay the same.

trans hand chart

Pre-programmed handshapes (ASL alphabet)

Several shapes from the ASL fingerspelled alphabet are included in the transcription and Signotate coding system as a type of shorthand. These refer to shape only; orientation is not specified.

asl chart
some line drawings courtesy of

Location: L (general)

By default, a location applies to both hands, but can be specified individually with D/ND after the L. The places marked as “regions” are general spaces for larger signs if left unspecified, but can be further specified according to the charts below. Proximity specifiers are also optional, and are placed after all other location codes.

trans loc gen chart

Location: Lz (torso)

Zero space positions correspond to the torso grid given below. The default position is at waist level on the same side of the body as the hand being described. The image below shows where proximity symbols will be placed for each combination.

trans loc torso chart

torso graph2

Location: Lh (head)

Head and face positions correspond to the image shown below. The default position is to the side of the head, near the ear. Locations around and on top of the head (in the first table and blue in the image) are preceded by ‘Lh’, and facial positions start with ‘L’ and the code for the region (e.g. Leye).

trans loc head chart

Location: L (face)

trans loc face chart

head graph2

Location: L (other regions)

The remaining location regions are described in the following charts and images. The image of the neck, shoulders, and chest can also be used for signs that occur in ‘high’ zero space, but not as high as the head. Again, codes begin with ‘L’ and the code for the region.

trans loc body chart

shoulder graph2

armleg graph

Movement: M

As in other sections, D/ND can be used after the M to describe hands that are moving differently. Note that inward (><) and outward (< >) describe movement in reference to the vertical center line, while left/nd side (>>) and right/d side (<<) are used when the hands move in the same direction. Directions can be combined to describe diagonals (e.g. ^< >: up and out), sequences (e.g. ^%: up then out), or oscillation (e.g. ^v: up and down).

trans movment chart

Examples (see examples page for videos and full transcriptions)

examples movement

Non-manuals: NM (face)

Non-manual descriptions begin with NM and (with the exception of the forehead, nose, and cheeks) another capital letter code to specify a region. Neutral positions are not listed here (see non-manuals for images of each position). Mouth positions do not require ‘:’. These only show the ’emoticon’ origin of each code. Non-facial non-manuals combine symbols from both location and movement.

trans nm face chart

Non-manuals: NM (non-facial)

trans nm body chart

Examples (see examples page for videos and full transcriptions)

examples nm