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"Glossing" is what you call it when you write one language in another. The written information is known as "gloss."

When we see someone signing and we write it down or type it out sign for sign and include various notations to account for the facial and body grammar that goes with the signs--we are "glossing ASL."

When you gloss, you are not trying to interpret a language. Rather you are attempting to transcribe it.  Your goal is to write it down, type it, or otherwise represent it in text form -- word for word.

So, why don't we just call it writing?

The difference between "writing in a language" and "glossing of a language" has to do with the fact that the target language may not have equivalent words to represent the original language.

For example, in American Sign Language (ASL) we have a sign known as "PAH!" Loosely translated it means "At last! Finally! Success! Ta da! Voilà! Presto!) This "sign" requires a plosive sound to be made as if saying "pah!" (Which makes the gloss of PAH! a rather obvious choice.)  ASL also uses special signs known as ASL classifiers that are difficult to write in English. For example, there is a sign that uses a "3-handshape" which is commonly used to represent "vehicles." This sign not only represents a vehicle but it also can include information regarding the location, orientation, speed, direction, and movement path of the vehicle.

This sign is glossed as 3-CL: "additional information goes here." 
Example: 3-CL: "goes uphill"
You might also see a "classifier 3" glossed as "CL-3" or "CL:3."

Glossing allows researchers (and students) to make notes in their own language regarding the second language.  For example, an English-speaking researcher would use gloss to transcribe the "clicks" of the tongue that occur in the Bantu languages of South Africa (such as Zulu).

Below are some conventional (typical / normal)  "glossing" symbols and notation.

ASL Glossing Conventions

"+" When you see a plus symbol it means to repeat the sign.

"!"  When a sign gloss has an "!" exclamation point after it that means you should emphasize the sign. Sign it a bit faster, stronger, or more exaggerated than normal.

"#"  The # symbol, which goes by many names, (number sign, crosshatch character, pound sign, hash, octothorpe, etc.) is used to indicate the lexicalization of a fingerspelled word. (For example: #ALL, #WHAT, #BUSY).  When you "lexicalize" a fingerspelled word, you mutate the spelling so that it is produced more like a sign than a fingerspelled word.

PRO.1  /  PRO.2  /  PRO.3  These terms refer to "first person," "second person," and "third person" pronouns.  PRO.1 means "I or me." PRO.2 means "you."  PRO.3 means "he, she, him, or her." For example, the ASL gloss “PRO.3 LOVE PRO.1” is typically translated as:  "He loves me" or  "She loves me"-- depending on whether the subject is a male or female. You might also see these terms glossed as PRO-1, PRO-2, and PRO-3.

"QM-wiggle" The gloss:  "qm-w" stands for "question mark wiggle." That is the process of holding an "x" hand up at the end of a sentence and wiggling the index finger (flexing it a few times.).

DASHES: When you see dashes between letters, that generally means to fingerspell the word.  Also, sometimes you might see "fs" when someone is writing about ASL. The letters "fs" are sometimes used as a shorthand for "fingerspell."

IX  The "IX" stands for "INDEX." Which means to point toward a certain location, object, or person. 

"CL" When you see a "CL" it generally refers to a "classifier." 3-CL: "additional information goes here." Example: 3-CL: "goes uphill" You might also see a "classifier 3" glossed as "CL-3" or "CL:3."

DASHES: When you see dashes between letters, that generally means to fingerspell the word.  Also, sometimes you might see "fs." The letters "fs" are sometimes used as a shorthand for "fingerspell."  

What is another name for the rules that researchers have generally agreed upon for typical or standard ways to do things? * conventions

What term means choosing an appropriate English word for signs in order to write them down? * Glossing

List some sample conventions of glossing: * Sample 1: small caps, Sample 2: #, Sample 3: M-A-R-Y, Sample 4: _____t

When glossing, what do we represent with small capital letters preceded by the # symbol? * lexicalized fingerspelled words

What do we call the facial expressions that accompany certain signs? * Nonmanual signals (or nonmanual markers, or NMMs)

What kind of features are indicated on a line above sign glosses? * Nonmanual signals and eye gaze

When glossing, what do we use “small capital letters" in English to represent? * Signs

When glossing, what is represented by dashes between small capital letters? * full fingerspellling

What are some glossed examples of lexicalized fingerspellling? * #WHAT, #BURN, #ALL

Note: The GLOSS label of an ASL sign doesn't equal "English." For example, the sign glossed as "FINE" doesn't mean all of the things that the English word "fine" means. I wouldn't use the sign FINE to sign, "I paid the fine for my ticket." The sign glossed as "GLASSES" also means: Gallaudet University, Thomas Gallaudet, and Moses.

Sample gloss: YESTERDAY PRO-1 INDEX-[at] WORK HAPPEN SOMEONE! MAN CL:1-"walked_past_quickly" I NEVER SEE PRO-3 BEFORE.  That sentence would be generally mean: "Yesterday at work a stranger (some guy I've never seen before) rushed past me.

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