ASL word usage of WORSE

A base meaning of the word "worse" in ASL is similar to that of English. Basically, it means "more bad", all right. Or, formally it's defined as "of poorer quality or a lower standard; less good or desirable."

But, there is more meaning to WORSE in ASL than "more bad" that is not found in English. Not only the ASL sign WORSE is a negative connotation, but also it can have either a positive or neutral connotation. As English has some odd meanings, ASL is no exception.

Word usage is how a word or concept is used in a language. These examples show how the ASL sign/word WORSE is used in contexts and what their meanings are. This tutorial is for advanced ASL learners.

The concept WORSE in this ASL sentence IX-me KNOW IX1(him) BEFORE/PAST+ #HS NOW/\ IX1 WORSE has a negative connotation. It means that the person knows him from high school and he's worse than before.

On the other hand, these few examples show a neutral or sometimes a positive connotation.

Gloss: WORK/\ WORSE CL:PILE. It means there is much more work to be done.

Gloss: DISCUSS-between-hir-me WORSEN++ DEBATE (verb agreement). Discussion gradually turns into a debate. The ASL verb WORSEN in this context is conceptually equivalent to the English verb "intensify".

Another example that is perhaps more common in regards to the height of a person. "Her father is so tall." "Yes, he's 6"8' but actually he's a runt in his family. He's the shortest of all his brothers." In ASL, one could sign the latter part of the sentences, ALL-OVER(ix1) HIS(ix1) FAMILY/\, IX1 WORSE CL:SHORT(oo).

Now ASL learners can learn to understand what they mean when they see ASL/Deaf speakers use the signs WORSE and WORSEN in contexts. But, ASL beginners and novice (or not) interpreters are not encouraged to use them in situations that can cause misunderstandings. Observe, learn, and understand that there is something beyond a basic meaning.

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