Location (sign language)

In sign languages, location, or tab, refers to specific places that the hands occupy as they are used to form words. In Stokoe terminology it is known as the TAB, an abbreviation of tabula. Location is one of five components of a sign, along with handshape (DEZ), orientation (ORI), movement (SIG), and facial-body expression. Different sign languages make use of different locations.

Locations in American Sign Language

American Sign Language uses 12 locations excluding the hands themselves, concentrated around the face: the whole face/head; the forehead or brow; the eyes or nose; the mouth or chin; the temple, cheek or ear (side of the head); the neck; the trunk (shoulders to waist); the upper arm; the elbow or forearm, the back of the wrist, and the inside of the wrist. In addition, a passive hand may serve as the location of the sign, in which case it may take any of several handshapes; these handshapes (fist, flat hand, etc.) are also considered to be locations (tabs). A sign may also be made in neutral space without a specific location.[1]


  1. Stokoe, Casterline, & Croneberg, 1965. A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principl loes, Gallaudet
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