In studies on the various sign languages (SL), four main types of autonomous gestural units may be identified:
conventional units, of the lexematic type (commonly called “signs” — or “words” -, or “frozen signs”);
unconventionalized units, variously analyzed and qualified according to theoretical approaches (“”constructions with classifiers””, “”productive signs””, “”transfer units””, etc.);
typing units (which each represent a letter of the written vocal language and constitute a “”typing alphabet””, the form and degree of functionalization of which vary according to LS).
The question of the status (linguistic or “”gestural””, peripheral or central) of unconventionalized units, their function in LS and their interrelations with other types of units, on the one hand, that of the status of their components d on the other hand, are among the central points of cleavages and debates in the field.
In gestural studies, a gestural unit is defined from the moment the articulators leave a position where they are relaxed until they return in the same type of relaxation. This gestural unit includes a gestural phrase and one or more gestural phases.
Content validated by Groupe de Travail 4 (multimodality and visual-gestural modality)