Definition: The communication system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other.
(Re)emerging sign since around 2009.
A tip for ASL learners, not to be confused by the ASL sign SENTENCE. The movement in LANGUAGE is that hands move outward from the center, whereas the dominant hand in SENTENCE only moves.
[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.]
Written ASL digit for "LANGUAGE" contributed by the ASLwrite community, 2018.
"Language is not mouth stuff -- it's brain stuff." -- Dr. William Stokoe, the father of ASL linguistics (in the 1960s).
"The human brain does not discriminate between the hands and the tongue. People discriminate, but not our biological human brain." -- Neuroscientist Dr. Laura Petitto, 2012.
"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to heart." -- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South Africa.
Language Learning and Philosophy
"Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"You can never understand one language until you understand at least two." --Geoffrey Willans
"One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." --Frank Smith
"The limits of my language are the limits of my world." --Ludwig Wittgenstein
Feeling lucky? (random word)
Search/Filter: Enter a keyword in the filter/search box to see a list of available words with the "All" selection. Click on the page number if needed. Click on the blue link to look up the word. For best result, enter a partial word to see variations of the word.
Alphabetical letters: It's useful for 1) a single-letter word (such as A, B, etc.) and 2) very short words (e.g. "to", "he", etc.) to narrow down the words and pages in the list.
For best result, enter a short word in the search box, then select the alphetical letter (and page number if needed), and click on the blue link.
Don't forget to click "All" back when you search another word with a different initial letter.
If you cannot find (perhaps overlook) a word but you can still see a list of links, then keep looking until the links disappear! Sharpening your eye or maybe refine your alphabetical index skill. :)
Add a Word: This dictionary is not exhaustive; ASL signs are constantly added to the dictionary. If you don't find a word/sign, you can send your request (only if a single link doesn't show in the result).
Videos: The first video may be NOT the answer you're looking for. There are several signs for different meanings, contexts, and/or variations. Browsing all the way down to the next search box is highly recommended.
Video speed: Signing too fast in the videos? See HELP in the footer.
Grammar: ASL has its own grammar and structure in sentences that works differently from English. For plurals, verb inflections, word order, etc., learn grammar in the "ASL Learn" section. For search in the dictionary, use the present-time verbs and base words. If you look for "said", look up the word "say". Likewise, if you look for an adjective word, try the noun or vice versa. E.g. The ASL signs for French and France are the same. If you look for a plural word, use a singular word.
Inflection: Many ASL words, especially verbs, in the dictionary are a "base"; be aware that many of them are grammatically inflectable within ASL sentences. Some entries have sentence examples.
Variation: Some ASL signs have regional (and generational) variations across North America. Some common variations are included as much as possible, but for specifically local variations, interact with your local community to learn their local variations.
Contextual meaning: Some ASL signs in the dictionary may not mean the same in different contexts and/or ASL sentences. You will see some examples in video sentences.
ASL is very much alive and indefinitely constructable as any spoken language. The best way to use ASL right is to immerse in daily language interactions and conversations with Deaf/Ameslan people (or ASLians).