Libras and Articulatory Phonology

  • Adelaide H P Silva Universidade Federal do Paraná
  • André Nogueira Xavier
Palavras-chave: Libras; Articulatory Phonology; phonological representation, Libras, articulatory phonology, phonological representation


This paper proposes a new approach to the phonological representation of Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). We depart from the observation that traditional analyses have overlooked features of signed languages which have no (exact) correspondence in spoken languages. Moreover, traditional approaches impose spoken language theoretical constructs on signed languages analyses and, by doing so, they disregard the possibility that signed languages follow different principles, as well as that analytical categories for spoken languages may be inaccurate for signed languages. Therefore, we argue that an approach grounded on a general theory of movement can account for signed languages phonology in a more accurate way. Following Articulatory Phonology (Browman & Goldstein, 1992), we propose the analytical primes for a motor-oriented phonological approach to Libras, i.e., we determine which are the articulatory gestures that constitute the lexical items in a signed language. Besides, we propose a representation for the sign BEETLE-CAR in terms of a gestural score, and explain how gestures coordinate in relation to each other. As it is discussed, this approach allows us to explain more satisfactorily cases of variation attested in our data.