ASL 101 lesson 3

  • Greetings: asking how one is.
  • Understand the difference between pronouns and possessives.
  • Use a yes/no question signal correctly. SAME/DIFFERENT
  • Use a basic constructive structure (grammar).
  • Strategies of asking what the sign is: opposite and category
  • Introducing people: MAN, WOMAN, BOY, GIRL
  • Describing basic feelings: HAPPY, SAD, MAD.
  • Doing (basic activities). LIKE / DISLIKE
  • Tell when: YESTERDAY, TOMORROW, TODAY

Greeting and asking how one feels

Review: greeting and asking one's name.

Vocabulary input

HOW YOU?
IX-me FINE / GOOD / TIRED / SICK / SLEEPY .

Pronouns and possessives

Review the pronouns: YOU, ME, SHE/HE, etc.

Personal pronouns and spatial referencing sign language

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 that Jane could use 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, the she/he uses pronouns to refer to these nouns in the following sentence.

Jane asked John for a penny that she could use 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.

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Understand the difference of a handshape between pronouns and possessives: YOUR, MY, HIS/HER, etc.

Possessive pronouns and spatial referencing in sign language

Possessive pronouns in American Sign Language

Possessive is a grammatical feature used to indicate a relationship of ownership or possession. Below shows how to use possessive adjectives, possessive pronouns, and possessive apostrophe in American Sign Language (ASL).

Possessive Adjectives

A possessive adjective is used to describe a noun. E.g. my, his, its, and so on.

MY, YOUR, HIS/HER, ITS, OUR

Unlike possessive pronouns in ASL, the movement for most possessive adjectives is generally once.

This can be glossed as child poss mother. It can be then re-interpreted as child's mother or, though not directly translated as, mother of a/the child.

ASL: my

It is a singular possessive adjective.

OUR

It is a singular possessive adjective. It can also mean ours if it is used alone without a noun.

ASL: your

ASL: her, his

The ASL word his/her is a non-gender specific possessive adjective.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronoun is used instead of a noun. E.g. Mine, ours, and so on.

A possessive pronoun is used instead of a noun. E.g. Mine, ours, etc. In ASL, the movement for some possessive pronouns is usually repetitive (twice), quick and short.

ASL: hers/his

ASL: mine

ASL: yours

Possessive Apostrophe (apostrophe + s)

Possessive apostrophe or genitive marker indicates possession. The ASL handshape "s" is rapidly turned inward to indicate "'s" right after signing an ASL word (e.g. tree's).

The handshape "s" is rapidly turned inward to indicate "'s" right after signing an ASL word (e.g. tree's).

Possessive Case

This phrase in ASL is translated as: a mother's child.

It is the opposite of the previous phrase. This phrase in ASL is translated as: a child's mother.

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Dialogues

IX1 MY CHAIR.

×

IX1 HIS/HER PEN.

×

Same or different

JANE | JANE -- IX IX NAME. SAME NAME.

JANE | JOAN -- IX IX NAME. DIFFERENT NAME.

Develop your receptive skill by recognizing a subtle difference between two signs.

Watch the video (available some time later) and write down whether it's the same or different.

Understand the ASL grammar: constructive structure.

Contrastive structure: a basic grammar in American Sign Language

Contrastive structure: grammar

Constructive structure is a grammatical aspect often used in ASL. It compares or contrasts two persons, things, or ideas. It also often functions as 'AND' as well as 'OR' in ASL sentences.

When talking about these two things, the signer establishes these referents in specific spatial locations, one on the left side and one on the right of the signer which are the two points of reference.

my father "have" [loc-left]one brother [loc-right]three sister.

In contrastive structure, the right-handed signers usually first refers to the left and then to the right, while the left-handed signers starts in the right space, using body-shifting.

When talking about two sets of siblings, it doesn't matter which brothers or sisters you start with in the left space. It can be either "# brothers and # sisters" or "# sisters and # brothers".

But, once you establish the referents in their locations, you should retain the same points of reference for these referents when you point to them.

More example

The signer in the video clips below shows you a couple of examples: a non-contrastive structure and a contrastive structure, talking about the same topic in both of these examples.

in-past college ix[she/he] learn+ french 3 years.

The video clip above shows a non-contrastive structure. The signer talks about one thing or a general thing and its referential space is in front of the signer.

in-past college[up-brows] ix[she/he] learn+ [loc-left]french three years, [loc-right]spanish 2 years.

The signer uses the contrastive structure talking about two different things (e.g. languages) that the person was learning. She uses body shifting to refer to two languages and their length of learning.

If the signer talks further about it, she can refer to the specific space (pronominalization) using index finger pointing. For example: ix-left i remember most, ix-right i forgot all. She can point to the left space (which is French), "I remember most" and points to the right space (Spanish), "I forgot all."

The referents french, 3 years, and remember most are referred to the left space, while the others are referred to the right space.

After establishing these referents in their locations, the signer uses body-shifting, eye-gazing, and pointing -- these forms of pronominalization -- to refer to these referents. It's the same way you use pronouns in spoken language.

By using these pronouns in sign language, it isn't necessary to repeat the nouns or subjects as long as the signer maintains the same points of reference as she talks about them until the subjects change. Spatial references are usually temporary.

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Exercise: practice using constructive structure by doing the following pairs. Start with the left space and then the right space if your signing is dominantly right-handed.

P | K
R | K

How to ask what the ASL sign is: strategies II

Two other basic strategies to ask "what is the sign for [something]" is to ask what the opposite of a sign is and what category is a set of the objects listed.

SAME OPPOSITE WHAT SIGN? (answer)

SLOW OPPOSITE WHAT SIGN? (answer)
FAST

STAND OPPOSITE (answer)
SIT
.

TYPING OPPOSITE (answer)
WRITING
.

DEAF OPPOSITE WHAT? (answer)
HEARING
.

FIRST NAME - LAST NAME...

To ask what is the sign for a set of the objects in the category. For example:

T: EIGHT, THREE, ONE, FIVE [WHOLE IX] WHAT SIGN? S: NUMBER (review)

T: HOW YOU? GOOD, FINE, SLEEPY, TIRED... WHOLE IX SIGN WHAT? S: FEELING (review)

ASL students are encouraged to ask what the sign for something is without resorting to fingerspelling an English word whenever possible. Use the last three strategies wherever possible.

Introducing people and basic feelings

MAN/\ OPPOSITE WHAT? (answer)
WOMAN

GIRL/\ OPPOSITE WHAT? (answer)
BOY

Vocabulary: MAN, WOMAN, BOY, GIRL

IX-plural WHOLE IX+ PEOPLE.

Vocabulary: SAD, HAPPY, MAD,

IX-plural WHOLE IX+ FEELING

Dialogues

IX1 HAPPY. "She/he is happy."

HAPPY OPPOSITE WHAT? NOT HAPPY.

That is, IX1 NOT HAPPY. "She/he is not happy."

These are simple SVO sentences.

Asking a yes/no question

Raise your eyebrows when asking a yes/no question.

Tutorial on asking a yes/no question in American Sign Language (ASL)

Asking a yes/no question in ASL

A yes-no question is usually accompanied with the upward brows, widened eyes and forward head. Sometimes, holding the last word at the end of sentence also anticipates a response.

Practice non-manual grammar for yes/no questions: raise brows and lean your head forward.

Example

Gloss: you married?
English translation: Are you married?

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Input: #PAT | #PAN SAME/\ DIFFERENT/\ WHICH?

Exercise: write down a list of about five three-letter words -- some of them with one letter difference. Practice with your signing partner.

Signer A: #PAT | #PAN/\ DIFFERENT SAME WHICH?
Signer B: DIFFERENT
Signer A: (affirm or negate)

Dialogues

IX1 HEARING, IX1/\

#NO, IX1 [neg]NOT HEARING[neg].

What is one doing? Basic activities

Vocabulary: RUNNING, WALKING, SITTING, PLAYING, WORKING, STUDYING..

Expressing likes and dislikes.

IX-me LIKE RUNNING. IX1 NOT LIKE RUNNING.

Tell when: basics

Vocabulary: YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW

TOMORROW IX1 STUDY. YESTERDAY IX1 WORK. TODAY IX1 [neg]NOT WORK[neg].

Farewell

Review: BYE

Vocabulary: SEE-YOU TOMORROW, SEE-YOU LATER.

SEE-YOU LATER.