English has a number of words and phrases borrowed from other spoken languages. For example "algebra" from Arabic, "kindergarten and sauerkraut" from German, "comedy" and "drama" from Greek, "tortilla" from Spanish, and so on.
While American Sign Language (ASL) has a number of signed loanwords from other signed languages, it also can borrow words from spoken languages. How? Fingerspelling.
Unlike regular fingerspelling, fingerspelled loan signs are the signs that a fingerspelled word is evolved into a sign. They are also known as lexicalized fingerspelling.
Below are some examples of the loan-signs or loanwords which usually marked with a "#" followed by capital letters:
#OK, #ALL, #IF, #EX, #OR, #OHH!, #OFF, #ON, #OR, #OT (overtime), #SO, #WHAT! and so on. #FUN, #TTY, #BUS, #PIZZA.
To help my ASL students understand, do you know that the ASL sign "NO" itself is an abstract fingerspelled loan? I showed them, fingerspelling N-O evolving into ASL sign #NO. The students flashed their eyes. Yeah, you'd never know that.
A few other fingerspelled loanwords don't look like the other fingerspelled loanwords at all and ASL students are often surprised to learn that the ASL signs were originated from fingerspelling such as:
DO-DO, NO, HA-HA, NO-GOOD (#NG).
Some loanwords are stylized such as #STYLE (one of ASL students' "favorite difficulties"), #QUIZ, and so on.
ASL students are advised to perceive them as ASL words, not fingerspelled words, by perceiving the movement and shape of the words. Do they listen English words by letter by letter? No, they perceive the whole word of its shape and movement.
Related posts: Loanword and borrowing in sign language.
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