TREE in sign language

Printable ASL for TREE
Printable ASL for TREE

To hearing people, the ASL word "TREE" may look onomatopoeic (in other word, iconic). Though, it's a bit tricky. One wouldn't recognize it until they learns the meaning of it after and recognize the iconic property of it.

Signs for TREE

How do you sign 'tree' in American Sign Language?

Meaning: A usually tall plant that has a thick, wooden stem and many large branches.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant upright "5" hand twists at wrist a few times while the non-dominant hand hold the dominant elbow.

A plural form of TREE; also FOREST.

Kid signing "tree"

The time-lapse video shows how the bilingual ASL-speaking learned the ASL word "tree" and how the word production developed.

Proximalization is the process of how one develops the motor control from shoulder to fingers. The video above demonstrates how the baby first moved with large motion between her shoulder and hand. Then, a bit later she was able to move the hand at the wrist.

A couple of weeks prior to the one-word stage, coincidentally in the earliest production, the baby acquired the ASL words "tree" and "Christmas", especially "Christmas tree" at around Christmas time. As a result though briefly, the ASL signs "Christmas" and "tree" can be difficult to recognize without a context.

Kids develop at different pace; although, they follow the same timeline of language development as well as the linguistic process and structure.

At age 3;5 in the video, what surprised me at that moment was when my bilingual toddler used "two" for "to", which was funny. This shows how sometimes one language (English) can influence ASL or vice versa among early bilinguals. Note for many hearing people who don't know, ASL and English are entirely different languages of their own, same true for all other signed languages.



Signs for wood-related: WOOD, HARDWOOD, PLYWOOD, TIMBER.

Cultural Phenomenology

If a sculptor were to make this woody arm-and-hand sculpture as illustrated in the image below, it would be a different intention or experience between a Deaf and a hearing artist.

Woody arm-hand tree
Image source: social media circulation posted by Emmett Hassen.

"The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy" sculpture in Wales was sculpted by Simon O'Rourke, a hearing artist. Simon in his statement explained that the tallest tree in Wales was damaged by storm and won the commission. After research, he decided on a giant hand, "symbolising the giants, and the tree's last attempt to reach for the sky!" Ref

On the other hand, if this artist were American Deaf artist, his conventional intention would be like this:

"This is perfect, illustrates the sign for 'tree' in ASL. :)" -- Emmett Hassen (Deaf) shared a post on his FB page, on Oct. 24, 2020. Generally, Deaf people would invariably reply in agreement.

That would be the first thought: a ASL signed word for TREE! No flowery rationale for an art project, just a simple and straightforward impulse right on the nose in front of the eyes. Right there!


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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.]

ASL written for TREE

A little creative, artistic ASL digit written and contributed by Adrean Clark, 2017.

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