Manual Vodholk

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Manual Vodholk
Vodholk Sign Language
EthnicityVodholk
Achiyitqan
Native speakers1,202,400  (2016)
Language family
  • Manual Vodholk
Official status
Official language inAchiyitqana
CWS codeVSL

Manual Vodholk or Vodholk Sign Language is the Official Signed Language of Achiyitqana and the native language of over 1 million people (mostly of the Vodholk species). With a further 2-3 million speakers it is one of the most widely used signed languages in Sahar. It is the standardized, manual-visual form of Spoken Vodholk. Although it does have some key syntactic differences from the spoken form, they are considered two channels of the same language. Both forms of the language are natively written with a pictographic script representing the manual form; alternatively, it can be written in the Achiyitqan abugida or Mahavic alphabet, based on the spoken form.

A third channel of the language complex exists, the manual-tactile form, used for communication between deaf and blind speakers, or by the deaf-blind.

Phonology

Manual Vodholk uses only 16 hand-shapes for the dominant hand, and the nondominant hand ranges between 16 to a mere 5 shapes depending on speaker preference and ability. See this article for images and more explanation.

Orthography

The Vodholk language natively uses an ideographic writing system based on the manual language form.

Lexicon

Signs are categorized as Neutral or Specified and Directional or Static.

Neutral signs can be made in any sign space, whereas Specified signs depend on their placement (often in contact with the face or body) as part of their semantic component. For example, many bird signs are created in the "sky" position, and many food signs as well as verbs like "eat" make contact with the mouth.

Directional signs make use of directivity (see morphology) to indicate agent/patient, motion, or other features. Static signs cannot use directivity, but may involve motion as part of the lexeme or as a modifier (for example, many signs involve tapping, shaking, or rotation). Most Specified signs are also Static, but there are exceptions.

Grammar

Morphology

Directivity is a key component in verbs in Manual Vodholk, which functions similarly to either a polypersonal verb agreement or a simple adpositional phrase in the spoken form. By moving the hands while forming the sign, the speaker communicates agent, patient, and sometimes motion or indirect objects.

Syntax

Word order is best described as topic-comment with an SOV preference, however many utterances have free word order due to the availability of sign-space and directional signs to indicate action-direction.