Alliteration in sign language poetry

Alliteration in speech language is the repetition of the same consonant sounds or letters in a sequence of words, usually at the beginning of a word. For example, to free a feline family from falling into freedom forever.

Is there an equivalent to alliteration in sign language? Dr. Clayton Valli, a pioneer Deaf/ASL poet, studied sign language poetics including alliteration in his doctoral dissertation in the 1970s.

Valli discovered a parallel of the concept of alliteration to sign language, using the handshape rhyme. He described, "Alliteration may be the repetition of the first sound of several words in a line, compared to the handshape rhyme, that is, the repetition of the handshape of several signs in a line." [1]

A favorite example of the ASL handshape rhymes is the poem "The Cow and the Rooster" by Valli. In this poem, he used only two handshapes "3" for the rooster and "Y" for the cow, except for the beginning and the ending, which is also another rhyme with the handshape "5" (open flat hand).

[1] Valli, Clayton. Poetics of American Sign Language Poetry. Doctoral dissertation, The Union Institute Graduate School. June 1993. P. 113.

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.