The Lamp: ASL storytelling in ASL

This story was translated and adapted in 1997 by Jolanta Lapiak from the Treasury of Fables by Brimax. This signed story is one of the oldest productions on this website, so I decide to keep these old images as part of this website's history.

Learn some grammar, classifier predicates, verb inflections, and determiners (e.g. pronouns) from this story. Although this one is an example, there can be different ways of expressing a structure of sentences in this story.

new

"A new lamp was filled with oil and lit."

oil

"A new lamp was filled with oil and lit."

light

"A new lamp was filled with oil and lit."

Meaning: light; oil light

lit

"A new lamp was filled with oil and lit."

glowing brightly

"It glowed warmly and brightly and was filled with pride at its own beautiful light."

The movement of the sign starts from the heart or chest, which in turn, refers to herself as a oil lamp.

beautiful

"It glowed warmly and brightly and was filled with pride at its own beautiful light."

proud

"It glowed warmly and brightly and was filled with pride at its own beautiful light."

it

"'Look at me!' it said.

Now the signer refers the oil lamp back to its original position by pointing to the same spatial location as the "lit".

say

"'Look at me!' it said.

look at me!

"'Look at me!' it said.

The Signer now refers to herself as the oil lamp. The movement and palm orientation of the "look at me" signs are towards the Signer. The handshapes refer to "look", and the movement refers to "at me".

I

"'I give as much light as the moon."

Synonym: me.

give light

"'I give as much light as the moon."

The movement and speed can be adjusted to signify intensity and amount of light.

same as

"'I give as much light as the moon."

The space of the "same as" sign is modified to refer to herself (oil lamp) and the moon.

the moon

"'I give as much light as the moon."

After the signing "same as" which established the space where the moon is located, it is linked to the moon.

I

"'I shine as brightly as"

shine brightly

"'I shine as brightly as"

The spatial location of the "shine" sign is modified to refer to the oil lamp (herself).

same as

"'I shine as brightly as"

The "same as" sign uses the same spatial location for the oil lamp and the moon.

'the moon and the stars put together."

Notice that the Signer's eyes are in the upper level, which signifies the oil lamp's perspective.

plus

'the moon and the stars put together."

The "plus" sign is synonymous for "and". It is a matter of the Signer's choice of vocabulary.

the stars

'the moon and the stars put together."

The grammatical space is in smooth and flowing unity from moon to stars.

altogether

'the moon and the stars put together."

The "altogether" sign is in the upper level of the signing space to refer to the moon and stars faraway in the sky.

I believe

"I do believe I shine as brightly as the sun itself.'"

The Signer does not really sign "believe" as her facial expression has already hinted.

shine brightly

"I do believe I shine brightly as the sun itself.'"

as

"I do believe I shine as brightly as the sun itself.'"

The "same as" sign also establishes the similar spatial location for the sun as for the moon.

the sun

"I do believe I shine as brightly as the sun itself.'"

The "sun" sign moves towards the oil lamp.

suddenly

"At that moment a gust of wind blew through a crack and put the lamp out. The room was plunged into darkness."

Meaning: suddenly

windy

"At that moment a gust of wind blew through a crack and put the lamp out. The room was plunged into darkness."

The "wind" sign along with the facial expression shows the direction, intensity and movement of the wind.

put the lamp out

"At that moment a gust of wind blew through a crack and put the lamp out. The room was plunged into darkness."

The Signer signs close to herself as she is the oil lamp.

dark

"At that moment a gust of wind blew through a crack and put the lamp out. The room was plunged into darkness."

The movement of the "dark" sign is quick, which means the light went out quickly.

the man

"As the lamp's owner relit the lamp, he said, 'Stop"

Meaning: the man; a man (generic sign). Notice that the Signer is back to its regular pose, which means a new sentence, phrase or change.

lit up

"As the lamp's owner relit the lamp, he said, 'Stop"

The spatial location of the oil lamp is in front of the Signer which is the man now.

tell

"As the lamp's owner relit the lamp, he said, 'Stop"

The direction of the "told" sign moves from her (the man's) chin towards the location of the oil lamp.

stop

"As the lamp's owner relit the lamp, he said, 'Stop"

Also notice the Signer's grammatical eyes fixing on the oil lamp.

you

"comparing yourself with the sun.'"

Meaning: you.

the sun

"comparing yourself with the sun.'"

compared

"comparing yourself with the sun.'"

The "compare" sign establishes its spatial locations linking to the sun and the oil lamp.

the sun

"'The sun, the moon, and the stars will never cease to shine"

the moon

"'The sun, the moon, and the stars will never cease to shine"

the stars

"'The sun, the moon, and the stars will never cease to shine"

shine

"'The sun, the moon, and the stars will never cease to shine"

The "shine" sign has the same handshape as other "shine" signs, yet its spatial location is different from them. It refers to the stars and others in the sky.

forever

""'The sun, moon, and the stars will never cease to shine"

Meaning: forever

know why?

"'because they can never be blown out by the wind.'"

the wind

"'because they can never be blown out by the wind.'"

cannot

"'because they can never be blown out by the wind.'"

Meaning: cannot.

blow out

"'because they can never be blown out by the wind.'"

Morals of the story

"Pride comes before a fall."

"Sometimes a human being thinks or perceives a thing without seeing other sides of it like seeing a star as the size of a dot without realizing its actual size."

Related Posts

Also see The Gnat and the Bull: a fable.

These are some ASL lessons, tutorials, and tips that ASL students and language enthusiasts can explore and learn some ASL on their own relaxing pace.

Seeking some challenges? Try some stories, fables, and others in ASL storytelling and poetry. Study a complex system of subtle eye gazes, role-shifting, classifiers, sentence structures, and other linguistic features as well as poetics.