The Corpus-based Dictionary of Polish Sign Language is based on the Polish Sign Language (PJM) Corpus, which is an extensive collection of recordings of Deaf users of PJM retelling the content of picture-stories and video clips, talking about themselves, and discussing topics of interest to them.
The dictionary interface can search for a sign according to its form and by certain semantic properties (advanced searching).
The form of a sign is defined by three parameters:
Basic handshapes are defined in terms of PJM fingerspelling signs (A, B, C etc.). Numbers added to a letter refer to a modification of the fingerspelling sign. Numbers 1-3 refer to thumb position, 4-7 to the position of the remaining fingers, and 8-9 to other modifications:
1 – thumb perpendicular to other fingers,
2 – thumb bent into the palm/hand,
3 – thumb extended in front of the palm/hand,
4 – fingers bent at acute angle with respect to the palm/hand,
5 – fingers bent at right angle with respect to the palm/hand,
6 – fingers bent at obtuse angle with respect to the palm/hand,
7 – fingers arched.
The handshape parameter is selected by clicking on the respective picture.
The localization parameter shows the location of a sign on the signer’s body. Some signs are positioned on the other hand, and the description is with respect to that hand. The respective options are shown in the pictures with captions; the localization parameter is selected by clicking on the respective picture.
Additional parameters include whether a sign is two-handed, performed close to the body, with touch, or a change in hand position as the sign is performed.
Advanced searching is based on the semantic properties of signs. These include:
Certain signs, at least in some of their meanings and types of use, clearly belong to a certain thematic field, such as education, health, body parts, etc. However, not all fully-denoting signs can be assigned to such a semantic category.
The dictionary makes it possible to search for signs related to the individual categories. Of course, not all the senses of a given sign have to fall within the given category. A category is selected from a list.
The user can also search for signs based on types of use. This is useful in finding function signs, or in finding fully-denoting signs within a given thematic category. For example, we can search for a sign referring to some kind of evaluative attitude that can be used as a verb. Of course, in such a case both verbal use and referring to an evaluation do not have to be properties of the same sense of the sign. For instance, for the following sign http://www.slownikpjm.uw.edu.pl/gloss/view/217 only the meaning ‘to stare’ involves such an evaluation.
Searches can also be carried out based on Polish words given as equivalents. For a sign to be found in this way, the Polish word must actually be listed as one of the sign’s Polish equivalent. As a result, a search on marchew ‘carrot’ will yield no results, because the corresponding sign lists the alternate (diminutive) form marchewka.
The two search modes (simple and advanced) work together. This should be borne in mind, and if necessary the previous query should be cleared.
The dictionary interface also offers the ability to flag signs which the user wishes to come back to, for instance when learning PJM.
Clicking the field “to learn” (do nauki) will put the selected sign on the list of signs to be learned. From this list, one can move directly to the entries for the signs listed.