L in sign language
Just like sign languages, there are different manual alphabets throughout the world.
Letter L in ASL alphabet
How do you sign the letter L in American Sign Language?
Definition: The 12th letter of the alphabet in English and American manual alphabet, a consonant.
Pronunciation (sign description): With the palm facing outward, the last three fingers (middle finger, ring finger, and pinky) are down on the palm, while the index finger is upright and the thumb is open or extended.
When fingerspelling a double letter of L in words or names, use the bounce method.
For beginners, remember not to bounce every letter when fingerspelling with the exception of some double letters.
Baby signing L
The handshape L looks as easy as the handshape "1", but it's deceptive as much as the sound L. If we look at the language development (specifically, phonological acquisition) of an ASL-speaking baby, thumb is not easy to manipulate in sign language, just like hearing children don't produce the "L" sound until age 3 and master it by age 6.
Just like it took a long time for a child to make the "L" sound, the thumb in sign language takes a long while to develop. Children develop at different pace but time frames in milestones are consistent.
In a case study of baby Juli in my documentation, the index finger first emerged in the ASL word, COOKIE (handshape error) at about 12 months. Then, it emerged more in ASL words at age 15-16 months, such as CRY and HURT with the correct "1" handshape and few other signs with the handshape error (i.e. "1" handshape in replacement of other handshapes such as PINEAPPLE and COMB). The handshapes U, V, and R emerged at 2;1 months, L still not yet. After several other handshapes, the handshape L emerged at 2;10 months and mastered it later.
While English and ASL have their own unrelated, independent number of sounds and primes respectively, the charts of 40-44 speech sounds and 50+ handshape primes are somehow in similar parallel in language development (e.g. about 4-5 during the first 2 years toward completing the whole chart by age 7-8) in both signed and spoken languages, even though they are different in modalities, units of language, and languages. It's probably all the brain.
Sign language is not easier than speech language. "Baby sign language" is a harmful cultural appropriation with misleading perceptions.
Vocabulary booster activity
List as many ASL words as you can with the "L" handshape and "clawed L" on the dominant hand regardless of one-handed or two-handed signs? You can make two separate lists for these two family handshapes.
For "L" handshape: LAW/LEGAL, DRILL, LUNCH (old variation), ...
For "clawed-L" handshape: WHO, RUN, GUN, DEVIL, ...
Other manual alphabets
This image illustrates the letter L in the two-handed British manual alphabet that is used in British Sign Language (BSL), Australian Sign Language (Auslan), and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).
For the letter L in British Sign Language, the index finger of the dominant palm-down hand rests on the non-dominant palm-up flat hand.
The one-handed manual alphabet used in American Sign Language (ASL) and French Sign Language (FSL) is similar with minor differences. Because, Old ASL is descended from Old French Sign Language (Old LSF), even though, both modern languages naturally developed by Deaf people are different.
Related letters and words
[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 the alphabetical letter L. [Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]