Describing objects in American Sign Language

Describing an object in ASL uses a lot of classifiers. When describing an object, remember these pointers:

State a noun first before using its classifier. Some exceptions apply.

For ceiling lamps and objects, usually start from the top way down to the bottom of the object.

For floor lamps, generally start from the bottom way to the top of the object.

For tables, start from the top to the bottom or stands.

Some exceptions may apply, depending on how parts of an object are organized. Use a strategy to make a description in a nice flow and unity.

Describing an apple

Watch and learn how the signer in the video below describes parts of an apple in order (strategy) and what classifiers are used for these parts.

Practice your receptive skill in fingerspelling for these parts of the apple. Remember to perceive a whole configuration of the fingerspelled words rather than letter by letter.

Start with the topical eyebrows upward when naming "apple" and then using its classifier (round). Next, the signer describes the surface part (another classifier). Then, she identified it by "tapping" and fingerspelling "skin".

The classifier of the base hand remains in its place which functions as a reference. The signer continues describing the rest of the parts, using the similar sequences for each: "stalk" and "stamen".

Before she goes on the next parts, she first cut the apple half to identify the parts inside: "flesh", "core", and "seed". Notice she uses a different classifier of the base hand for the core and seeds.

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Feeling baffled by what classifier in sign language is? Review basic classifiers.