ASL 101 lesson 2
- Introducing oneself. Able to fingerspell one's name.
- Familiar with all alphabetical letters.
- Pronouns and spatial referencing.
- Using survival phrases in classroom
- Using a wh-question signal correctly.
- Strategies of asking what the sign is for: pointing and acting out.
- Understanding a basic OSV structure.
- Counting up to 12.
- Tell when: IN-PAST/BEFORE, NOW, FUTURE/WILL
- Farewell: BYE.
Tutorial: greeting and introducing oneself
Greetings in ASL culture
Learn how to express greetings and how to introduce one to another in ASL culture. The most common greetings in ASL are hi and hello.
Simply express "hi". It's as courteous enough as saying "good morning".
"Good morning" is a common greeting in English-speaking culture. However it's not commonly found in ASL culture, you can still greet good+morning in ASL. We are used to hearing people's way.
Sometimes one signs hello in ASL in some contexts where one hasn't seen his/her friend for a long time. It's equivalent to "big hello". Or, sometimes one signs "hello" in a formal scenario (e.g. a presenter's greeting to the audience).
A greeting hug is a common greeting exchange in ASL/American Deaf culture. It's an authentic cultural greeting form among members of the ASL/Deaf community where the ASL/Deaf members has been historically close-knitted.
However, Deaf people don't exchange this greeting hug with other people outside their culture. Instead, handshaking or saying "hello" is a typical exchange.
A common conversational opener in a formal situation is: how you ("How are you?"),
In informal contexts, a friend or an acquaintance may use a different conversation opener after a typical hug greeting. E.g. asking about the latest update as you two had just recently met or often met. One common is also what-up? ("what's up?">.
Gloss: how you?
English equivalent: how are you?
Variants: how you since? (How have you been?), how you doing since? (How have you been doing?).
Gloss: ix-me fine.
Gloss: me/i fine.
English equivalent: I am fine.
This is usually an interaction with a buddy, pal, or a close friend in informal contexts.
Gloss: since good?
English equivalent: How have you been doing?
It can mean in different ways in different contexts, usually with a close friend.
Spatial referencing and pronouns in sign language sentences
Learn how to use spatial referencing, using personal and possessive pronouns in sentences in American Sign Language (ASL).
Remember to use your index finger for personal pronouns (e.g. you, s/he, it) and whole hand with closed fingers for possessives (her, his, its).
There is no gender for pronouns and possessives in ASL unless you mention a gender in context (e.g. "A woman.. she..") in sentences. For this demonstration, there is no gender mentioned so she and he are interchangeable.
Gloss: IX1 POSS2 BROTHER
English equivalent: She/he is his/her brother.
Understand the glosses. IX is a index-finger pointing (pronoun) and POSS is a possessive. The number represents a spatial locus. E.g. The locus of IX1 is on the right side and IX2 is on the left side of the signer.
In this case, "She/he (IX1) is his/her (POSS2) brother.
Gloss: IX2 POSS1 STUDENT
English equivalent: She/he is his/her student.
You can establish IX1 in either right or left side and then assign the other side IX2. When talking about one person, one usually uses the dominant side of the signer. When talking about two persons, a signer usually uses the dominant side for the main subject.
Gloss: IX1 POSS2 TEACHER
English equivalent: She/he is his/her teacher.
Using two sentences above, notice that spatial referencing is stable. E.g. She (IX1) is her (IX2) teacher and she (IX2) is her (IX1) student. So, the teacher is IX1 and the student is IX2.
Gloss: IX1 MY MOTHER.
English equivalent: She is my mother.
Can you guess what does it mean?
Gloss: IX-me HER DAUGTHER.
English equivalent: I'm her daughter.
Try practicing more on your own as follows:
"I am her/his daughter (or son)."
"This is my cat (or dog)."
Dialogues including vocabulary
HELLO, IX-me NAME fs-JOLANTA .
IX-loc NAME WHAT?
IX NAME fs-[name]
Gloss: nice to-meet-you
English translation: It is nice to meet you.
Gloss: NICE MEET-YOU TOO
When a Signer A signed NICE MEET-you, the signer B can sign NICE MEET-you TOO. In some situations, you two may handshake.
Pronouns and spatial referencing
Learn and understand how to use the pronouns: YOU, ME, SHE/HE, etc.
Personal pronouns and spatial referencing in sign language
Pronouns are a class of referents that may substitue for nouns in a sentence. They have the same reference as the nouns which they replace.
Personal pronouns in English include "he," "she," "it," and "you". They are used to make nouns in sentences less repetitive. In ASL, indexing (spatial referencing) is used for pronouns. Unlike English (e.g. "he" and "him") but like Chinese, the forms of the ASL pronouns are the same for both subject and object in a sentence.
An ASL student may sometimes be seen signing the same nouns repeatedly without using pronouns. In this case, imagine what it would be like to translate ASL into English below. It's repetitive and somehow distracting.
Jane asked John for a penny so that Jane could keep the penny in Jane's wallet for good luck. John couldn't find John's wallet and realized John had lost John's wallet.
A speaker does not need to repeat the same noun every time. Instead, she/he uses pronouns to refer to these nouns in the following sentence.
Jane asked John for a penny so that she could keep it in her wallet for good luck. John couldn't find his wallet and realized he had lost it.
ASL, like other sign languages, has a complex set of pronouns, pronominal classifiers, and indexing. It uses the pronominal references in space.
There are a few different ways of indexing. Manual indexing is a common promominal indexing. Eye-gazing is also a significant promoninal indexing. In the illustration, a black line and a gray dotted line represent manual-indexing and eye-gazing, respectively.
In manual indexing, a finger pointing is associated with personal pronouns. Eye-gazing communicates with whom the signer is talking to or it can indicate a referent.
Here are some basic examples of using personal pronouns in sign language.
ix my husband
He is my husband or This is my husband.
Indexing to the right space for right-handed dominance is common when talking about a person, a main subject.
ix my uncle
He is my uncle or This is my uncle.
Same, another example.
ix age 38
He is 38 years old.
Once you establish a subject in a specific space, you consistently use the same space to refer to the same subject. E.g. This is my uncle. He's 38.
A noun in sentences has its spatial reference that you can use it to refer to the noun or subject until you change the subject. When you no longer talk about one of the subjects and talk about a new subject, you can recycle the space.
That is, when you talk about a new subject and no longer use the previous noun, you re-establish (e.g. recycle) the space by first signing the noun and then assign it a spatial point. Just like you use 'he' repeatedly for the subject "John" until you talk about a different subject. You introduce the noun "Sam" and use 'he' which is not referred to John.
Using survival phrases
Know how to use survival phrases for use in classroom.
Survival phrases in ASL 101 classroom
Learn a few useful ASL phrases that you can use in ASL classroom. Ask for clarification or ask your instructor or student to repeat, to explain, or to rephrase.
To get the instructor's attention, raise your hand.
If you miss a signed word or a short ASL phrase, ask the instructor or a student to repeat it (sign again). If you catch the signed word but do not fully perceive it, you can produce the (imperfect) sign and ask to repeat it.
If the instructor produced a full sentence, make sure you repeated the previous signs to indicate which sign you want to have it repeated. For example:
T: ix-ref man study five year ix university
S: (raising hand) study five what?
T: year (and/or repeating the whole phrase or sentence).
If you don't understand, don't be afraid to tell the instructor immediately after a demostration or explanation.
If you don't get what your teacher instructs, request her to "explain again please".
When your instructor wants you to copy her, she would sign copy-me.
If you understand the whole ASL sentence except for one sign, you might want to ask what that sign means. First produce the sign that you're not familiar with and ask what it means: [signed word] ix mean what?
When signing is a bit fast or you miss it, ask the instructor or a student to sign "slowly please".
Ask when you're not sure what you should do in an activity.
If you wish to talk with the instructor (or vice versa) or if you have a question that you want to ask at the end of class, inform her: ix-me want-to talk later.
Ask what is for homework?
IX-he NOT UNDERSTAND. REPEAT/AGAIN .
How to ask what the ASL sign is: strategies
ASL students are encouraged to ask what the sign for something is without resorting to fingerspelling an English word whenever possible.
A basic strategy of several possibilities to ask "what is the sign for [something]" is to point to an object in the immediate environment. IX[item] SIGN WHAT?
IX-me NOT-KNOW .
Another strategy is to act out or demonstrate an action.
Vocabulary: SIT-DOWN, STAND, TYPE, WRITE, READ, DRAW, OPEN-DOOR, CLOSE-DOOR, OPEN-BOOK, CLOSE-BOOK, DRINK, MOVE...
T: [action] IX-me #DO++ WHAT?
Understand basic topicalization using a basic object-subject-verb (OSV) structure.
Topicalization in American Sign Language
Topicalization is a process of establishing a topic at the beginning of a sentence. This topic-comment structure familiarly as OSV (object-subject-verb) is a very common use in American Sign Language.
In an OSV sentence, the non-manual signal is raised eyebrows and tilt head forward at the beginning of the sentence when signing the object (O), then proceeding with the rest of the sentence (SV).
See a few examples below. The gloss /\ depicts raised eyebrows. I'll start with a few simple sentences before giving a more complex sentence.
The sentence above, /\book/\, ix-me give-hir (where "hir" is a non-gendered pronoun for "her/him"). The signer raises her eyebrows and slightly tilted her head forward when signing "book" and then produces the rest of the sentence.
Another example of a basic sentence is /\paper/\, please you-give-me.. In SVO (subject-verb-object), this would be please you-give-me paper. No raised eyebrows would be visible in this SVO sentence.
Below is a couple of more examples with a little more complex sentences.
fruit/\, left-it-too-long, spoiled
Fruits spoils when it is kept too long.
The signer begins with the signed word fruit (topic) and establishes this referent in its spatial location, in which fruit becomes it; then, she signs keep-it-too-long (or left-it-for-long-time). This movement (temporal aspect) repeats a few times which suggests "for a long time." When she signs spoils in the same space as the previous (verb). The use of the specific space/location is similar to "it" in English.
/\speaker/\ [L]classifier-1 audience (hs)heckle+
Observe how this sentence is grammatically constructed. The Ameslan begins with the ASL word speaker (topicalization) and then establishes the classifier for person in reference to the speaker in a spatial location (which becomes a "pronoun"). Then she signs audience and heckle (verb inflection) towards the spatial referent (the speaker).
Exercise: practice giving a command with your signing partner.
S1: DOOR/\, YOU OPEN. [or] WINDOW/\, YOU OPEN.
S2: (reply by demonstrating an action)
BOOK/\, YOU OPEN.
WATER/\ YOU DRINK.
PAPER/\ YOU DRAW-ON.
PAPER/\ YOU WRITE-on NAME.
Counting numbers up to 10
Learn how to count cardinal numbers 1 through 10.
How to tell ASL cardinal numbers: 1 to 30
Learn the numbers from one to thirty in both receptive and expressive skills. Watch the video and practice the numbers. For individual numbers, you also can check them in the ASL dictionary.
Below are some rules for the ASL cardinal numbers from one to thirty. Please note that some of these rules are not the same in other grammatical contexts.
For example, your palm is in -- facing you as a signer -- for the cardinal numbers one through five, but it comes to a different rule when telling ages. That is, your palm is out for the ages one through five.
For the cardinal numbers one through five, your palm is in, facing you as the signer. For the numbers six through nine, your palm is out -- facing outward from the signer's perspective.
For the numbers eleven through fifteen, your palm is in. For the rest of the numbers except for the number 21, the palm is out.
The numbers 20 through 29 have different handshapes from the number two. So better practice on these numbers more. Use the "L" handshape for the "two" part from 23 to 29.
T: NUMBER/\ 4 NEXT-to WHAT?
T: 8 NEXT-to WHAT?
T: NUMBER/\ 7 PREVIOUS/BEFORE WHAT?
... (and so on).
Vocabulary: FUTURE/WILL, NOW, BEFORE/IN-PAST.
T: NOW/\ /\WATER BOTTLE/\ YOU WRITE(on CL:C).
Feeling overwhelmed or nervous? If you are new to ASL, some students in this level share invariably similar experience: excitement, naive, fear, curiosity, etc. You are not alone. It is a normal process. It is the very beginning of your journey.
If you have actually taken your first day of class in face-to-face class with an ASL instructor and feel overwhelmed, here is something for you, hopefully, to help you at ease, reducing your stress.
A student's first day in sign language class
Most students, learning American Sign Language in classroom, go through a similar experience on their first days of class in ASL 101 at university or college.
Here are some common stories during the first days of class. While there is a bit of truth in most of these overly exaggerations, enjoy humor.
Your feeling on the first day of ASL class when watching your native ASL instructor signing via an interpreter...
Your instructor may sign slowly but to you it looks like this...
Then you learn that the interpreter is only there on the first class but after that, all classes are fully immersed in ASL...
... some other student's reaction...
As you head out of the classroom after the first day of class, you feel panic...
When your university friends ask you what courses you're taking, you feel so cool about taking ASL... despite your great anxiety.
You take your first ASL class and learn many contradictions to what you thought you knew.
During your homework, you test your newly learned signs with your dog to see if he understands you...
You're pumping up for your next class...
... and relying on your best tool: eyes.
You have survived the first days and things get a bit better each day. Don't worry. Other students have gone through the semester well, so will you be.
Review the manual alphabetical letters for fingerspelling personal names. You can also practice fingerspelling receptive skill (one-word list only), but it may be too early at this stage.
Just practice watching fingerspelled words even if you don't capture them. Just to train your eyes to develop receptive skill. You will come back to this exercise again and again throughout the semester.