chapter  25
The Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language
A case study of contemporary sign lexicography
ByRachel McKee, David McKee
Pages 22

The case of the Online Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (ODNZSL) is presented here as an example of a contemporary user-facing dictionary that is based on linguistic research and leverages the advantages of a digital, online medium. Discussion of the ODNZSL is preceded by a brief overview of the aims and historical development of NZSL dictionaries, and common issues in signed lexicons are discussed in relation to making the ODNZSL. Two print NZSL dictionaries preceding the Online Dictionary of NZSL illustrate the recent development of sign language lexicography. The first NZSL dictionary was a by-product of the first training of sign language interpreters in New Zealand by an American interpreter contracted by the Deaf Association to train interpreters. Polysemous and homophonous signs call for decisions about the representation of form-sense relationships in a dictionary that take into account both linguistic awareness and translation needs of users.