Storytelling in American Sign Language (ASL)

Storytelling is the old-age art of telling a story. It can be found in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, and/or preservation of the culture.

Like every language and culture, signed storytelling is one of the oldest cultural traditions. Signed stories are passed on verbally (not spoken but signed, like orally) from generation to generation, till the advent of video technology as a written form in the 1970s or 1980s and onwards.

Cinematic Nature of Sign Language

ASL storytelling in video

Language in a visual-temporal-spatial-kinetic dimension (that is, sign language) allows a storyteller produce a richly imaginative cinematic-like narrative, using cinematic vocabulary in addition to other grammatical features and devices. Like vocal-auditory (spoken) and written languages, there are different styles of articulation in visual-manual (signed) languages. For example, a signing style in ASL storytelling for children is different from a style for adults.

Related: zap stories.