EARLY in sign language

"How do you say 'early' in American Sign Language?" There are a few ASL signs that are commonly used across North America.

Meaning: Happening or done before the usual or expected time.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant "open-8" with the tip of the middle finger in contact with non-dominant palm-down loosely flat hand moves forward while the base hand stays unmoved.

Regional variation: U.S. and Canada.

Regional variation in Canada.

Pronunciation (sign description): Two-handed "open-8" hands with tips of middle fingers in contact with the sides of torso or chest slide upward and away from the chest in an arc motion.

Contextual variation in North America.

Pronunciation (sign description): Fingerspelled loan "EARLY" in a semi-circular motion. For beginners, as it's difficult to produce correctly, start with your receptive skill before you can try doing it later. It's best to have feedback from a Deaf ASL teacher.

More variation in the U.S.

Related signs: Too SOON, PREMATURE, UNTIMELY, before time.

Opposite: LATE, OVERDUE.


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