ASL Week Seven (notes)


Today we are going to introduce verbs. Remember, verbs are the words in a sentence that give you the action-though I will tell you that the action is not always visible. Let’s look at the verb “TO THINK”…..not a lot of visible action going on there, but action nonetheless. Just remember that not all verbs are visible action words. Verbs, in ASL, are usually signed after the noun + adjective, which is not true for English. It takes some getting used to.

Verbs are signed a bit differently than nouns, too. (Compare “chair” and “to sit” or “airplane” and “to fly”). Verbs are signed in a longer, sweeping fashion, while nouns remain short and choppy. Verbs are directional. Remember last week we talked about positioning and putting people and places somewhere in the signing space,  and then pointing at them? Well, if the verb “to tell” is about Johnny telling Sally something important about lunch, the verb becomes directional between where you set up and established Johnny and where you established Sally. The verb “to help” is directional, depending on who is helping who. If “I” “HELP” “JOHN” the verb will be signed directionally, differently than if “JOHN” “HELP” “SUSIE.” We will see this more clearly in the classroom portion of class.

To negate a verb, you can simply shake your head from side to side, or insert the sign for “NOT” following the verb. For instance, if you don’t like dogs “DOG LIKE NOT ME”

One very important verb in the English language is the verb TO BE. And do you know what conjugate means? That means you have to write the verb out in all the tenses like this: “I am, You are, He, she, it is, We are, You(pl) are, We are, They are”…..I am so thankful that in American Sign Language you do not have to conjugate verbs. That is a gift. Back to the verb “TO BE”….it just doesn’t occur, really, in ASL. The mighty index finger comes to rescue and saves you from having to conjugate this particular verb, well,  most all verbs. Suppose you are feeling tired or sad. You would sign “ME (pointer finger at yourself) SAD”. Sign language is a language of the here and now. If you are signing and not indicating that it’s in the future (you’ll learn it soon) or in the past (you’ll learn it soon), then it’s NOW. So, “I AM” is redundant. When you begin to see how sign language is translated into English, you’re going to think to yourself, that sounds stupid. And yes, it may, but guess what? You don’t “hear” sign language. Right? So get over it. Alright-y then, let’s move on.

Quiz on fingerspelling and a few signs answerkey-wk7

Conversational phrase: What’s up?

Signs we learned today: To think, to play, to run, to talk (difference between talk and tell/say),to know, to believe, to feel, to understand, to love, to like, to begin, to drink, to eat, to laugh, to sit, to fly, to allow, to compare, to introduce, to write, to do, to have, to explain.

Deaf culture: How do deaf people make telephone calls? Order pizza? Make doctor’s appointments? Well, there are several options for deaf people. One is called a TDD. It’s kind of like a teletype machine. The device has a keyboard, and you simply type your message and it is displayed to the receiver (who must also have a TDD) who reads, and then replies. The only problem with a TDD is that both the sender and receiver must have one. I have not seen many  TDD machines at Dominos Pizza or at my local doctor’s office. Another option is called a “Relay Service.” This is a third party, which accept a call from a TDD phone; reads the message and calls the hearing party to read aloud the deaf person’s message–relaying the message–and then getting an answer back, verbally, and typing it into the TDD back to the caller. A third option is called “Video Relay Service” or VRS, which allows for a signer to be seen via video and to watch an interpreter relay the information being sought. The widespread use of mobile phones, texting, Face Time and Skype have all made communicating much easier among and between deaf people.


4 comments on “ASL Week Seven (notes)

  1. Are there any curriculum books that you recommend that focus more in teaching ASL in its verb structure instead of as a list of vocabulary?

  2. Joy, sorry back again… probing your website I appreciate seeing/understanding how you reach your students via technology. It is scary to think that I may have to teach 70 students ASL for the first time online in the fall but studying what and how you have handled it is a blessing to help me wrap my head around what I may be challenged to do this fall. Thank you! Sending my other (personal) email as well!

    • You’ll do great!! I think it’s one of those classes that is challenging online because I can’t SEE the students to know if they are making the sign correctly….but I suppose you could set up some type of zoom thing so that you can see the kids. But 70 students….that’s a lot!!

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