D in sign language

There are different manual alphabets around the world. Some signed languages, that are distinct of their own, may share the similar manual alphabets. Sign language alphabets are used for fingerspelling a foreign word of a spoken/written language as well as people's names.

D letter in ASL alphabet

Here is the D letter in American Sign Language.

Definition: The fourth letter of the alphabet in English and American manual alphabet; a consonant.

Pronunciation (sign description): The fingertips of the middle finger, ring finger, pinkie, and the thumb are in contact with the hollow inside while the index finger is upright. The palm of this D handshape faces left if dominantly right-handed.

Baby signing the D letter

In general, gestural pointing with index finger may emerge at about 7-9 months or so, regardless of deaf or hearing babies. It doesn't matter if kids sign or not. Gestural pointing is not the same as linguistic pointing pronouns which emerge at about 18 months to 24 months (the same timeline as pronouns in spoken languages).

In my documentation of a case study of bilingual ASL-speaking baby/toddler Juli, the index finger or "1" handshape emerged at 9 months in gestural pointing, then in ASL words at 15-16 months. The "D" form emerged at 22 months as a standalone as in letter D; though, few ASL words come with the "D" handshape.

Again, as always a reminder, children develop at different pace; although timelines are generally consistent across modalities (signed and spoken).

Other manual alphabets

The two-handed British manual alphabet is part of the British Sign Language (BSL) -- the language of the Deaf people in the U.K. as well as Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

D letter in BSL
D letter in BSL

In the BSL alphabet, the letter D is formed by using the dominant hand of "baby C" with the fingertips of the curled index finger and curved thumb on the the non-dominant upright "1" handshape.

Unlike BSL, NZSL, and Auslan, American Sign Language (ASL) is descended from Old French Sign Language (Old LSD) in the early 19th century. Today, modern ASL and modern LSF are different; although, LSF and ASL share similar manual alphabet. If American signers and French signers try to fingerspell a word of either French or English, both of them would need to know that common spoken language other than their signed languages.

As for the Asian languages such as Chinese Sign Language (CSL) and Japanese Sign Language (JSL), Deaf signers use the "syllabary" to depict visual representations of written Chinese characters.

Related links

Previous letter: C and next letter E.


Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

How to write ASL for letter D

Written ASL digit for the alphabetical letter D. [Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]

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