The Project

Welcome to the DGS corpus. So far, the knowledge on German Sign Language is still limited. The DGS-Korpus project aims at documenting German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache, DGS) and thus supporting research on it. The corpus is a representative sample of the everyday language of deaf/Deaf people all over Germany. In the process of collecting data, 330 informants were filmed in pairs. A research team of deaf/Deaf and hearing staff members at the Institute for German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf at Hamburg University works on making the collected data accessible and on analysing it. The DGS-Korpus project is a long-term project of the Academy of Sciences in Hamburg. It is financed by the joint research funding of the German Federal Government and Federal States in the Academies’ Programme, with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Project Aims

There are two major aims to the DGS-Korpus project:


  • The first aim is to collect sign language data from deaf/Deaf people and make it accessible in an annotated corpus. Approximately 50 hours of the existing data is published as the Public DGS Corpus. To fulfil various information needs we offer two different portals to access the material. The first portal ( addresses members of the deaf/Deaf community and other people that are interested in DGS. The second portal ( includes detailed annotation data and enables linguists to analyse different aspects of DGS on an empirical basis.
  • The second aim is the development of a corpus-based digital dictionary (called DW-DGS: "Digitales Wörterbuch der Deutschen Gebärdensprache — Das korpusbasierte Wörterbuch DGS - Deutsch"). The dictionary includes descriptions of DGS signs as can be summarized from the signs’ usage found within the DGS corpus. For that purpose, passages including the lemma sign are analysed. The entries include further information on the respective sign such as variant forms and collocations. In addition, specifications on a sign’s regional distribution can be given on the basis of the metadata on informants using the sign.


The dictionary’s final version will be available electronically to the public in 2023 and is free of charge. Interim dictionary entries will be successively published online.