ASL Week Four (notes)


We need to talk a little bit about signing space, body position, and expression. You have a space in front of you that could be described as a square that goes from your forehead to your chest, and from side to side-the width of your person. Your signs should remain in that invisible box. Since a conversation is taking place visually, and eyes become fatigued more quickly than ears, it’s important to be efficient and to keep your signing space in a comfortable range. And, just like you wouldn’t want to shout at people (most days…) you don’t want to bounce your signs or get up into someone’s face. Keep your signs fluid and steady. Don’t bounce each letter or number as you are fingerspelling.

I think it is obvious to say that you want to keep yourself positioned in front of the person you are signing with, but I will mention it anyway. And your expressions are very, very helpful to a signed conversation. Just like the rise and fall of your voice which leads one to think you are making a statement or asking a question, or maybe even a little perturbed, your expressions and body movements (raised eyebrows, the shrug of your shoulders-called Non Manual Markers) lend to the clarity and depth of a signed conversation. We’ll practice this technique. Sometimes hearing people get a little self conscious about it….but it is an integral part of American Sign Language and must be pursued as part of mastering ASL.

Learning about the different signs for “TIME” require us to understand the differences ourselves between a time period-or epoch- and asking someone the time of day. And there are many English phrases that we say that indicate a epoch or timeframe. For instance “Once upon a time”  or “A long, long time ago” or “In the beginning.” Those would all be signed the same way and it would depend on context to determine the correct interpretation. Time, as in the time on a clock, is signed differently-pointing to the top of the wrist-as if you were pointing to a watch. “TIME” and “TIME” are signed differently depending on the context. You will find a lot of sign language, if it’s to be interpreted correctly, must be correctly understood in the English. You can’t simply do a word for word transliteration, but must understand the concept before moving forward.

Fingerspelling quiz, plus numbers  and a few signs QuizWeek4

Numbers 51-60, 70, 80, 90

Our conversational phrase: Where were you born?

Signs we learned today: time (clock time and epoch), today, good morning, Noon, afternoon, evening and night. Days of the week, month, year. Every day, month, annual…etc. Numbers 51-60, 70, 80, 90,

Deaf culture: I will never forget the first party that I attended that was made up of primarily deaf people. The party was LOUD. The arms were flying. Feet were stomping, hands slamming down on table tops, and then there was a light that was flashing on and off, sporadically. It took me just a few minutes to understand that the flashing light was the homeowner’s doorbell. When someone came to the door, they pushed the door bell, but instead of the “ding dong,” you got the flash of the light on and off to indicate someone was at the door. In the deaf world, it is not rude to stomp your foot on the floor to get the attention of your friend. Same with slapping your hand down hard on a table. Sometimes it’s the vibrations that travel to and get the attention of who you need, and sometimes, they have enough residual hearing to pick it up. In the hearing world, that would be somewhat disturbing or  downright distressing, but in the deaf world you do what you can to get the attention of someone, and that works pretty well. I have even seen (though I do not suggest trying this at home) deaf people throw a small, soft object at someone they are trying to get the attention of. Like I said, don’t try that at home…or even with a new deaf friend. It’s just something I have seen. We’re talking pillows and not pencils.


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