University of Edinburgh

The Crowded Cottage CD-ROM

The BSL/English Dictionary

British Sign Language (BSL) is a proper language in its own right. And English is a proper language in its own right. The two languages are very different, but this also true for English and say, Dutch. So what matters is not so much that English is spoken, and that BSL is signed. What does matter is that the very different grammar and word order of both languages do not always allow for simple ‘sign for word’ translations, or vice-versa.

In fact, in everyday English talk or in everyday BSL production relatively little meaning can be translated most effectively word for sign, or sign for word. In other words, there is no direct equivalence between natural English and natural BSL.

This means that a sign language dictionary, for example, cannot merely translate a single BSL sign with a single English word; instead a dictionary needs to explain how a sign might appropriately be used in BSL, and separately, how an English word might appropriately be used in English. Dictionaries normally do this by providing de\nitions and example sentences.

All this is very important, because by demonstrating how each language works such detailed dictionary support makes learning English or learning BSL a little easier.

The Crowded Cottage does exactly this with the unique English/BSL dictionary that supports the written English story. We think that this detailed dictionary support in particular is a must, and sets a new standard in sign bilingual multimedia.

An example: snuffled noisily

Edited by Mary Brennan
Published by M|M
ISBN 0-9547081-0-5