R in sign language
What is the letter R in manual alphabets? The manual alphabetical letters are used for fingerspelling spoken/written or sound-based words.
R in ASL alphabet
Definition: The 18th letter of the English alphabet and American manual alphabet, a consonant.
Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant-handed, upright forefinger and middle finger are crossed while the other fingers and thumb are closed with its palm facing outward.
Vocabulary activity with the "R" handshape
Think of as many ASL signs with the handshape "R" and "R-ILY" (R with pinky and thumb open) as possible, at least if you know more than 50-100 or more ASL words.
For a starter, here is a couple of examples glossed as: READY and REALIZE.
Glosses: BRAID(S), RULE, DOLPHIN (variation), ROLE, JET (R-ILY), ROCKET, REFER, RESOURCE, ROPE, I-REALLY-LOVE-YOU, ...
R in baby signing
Spoken English has about 40-44 phonemes (sound units) and ASL has over 50 handshape primes. In language development (phonological acquisition), the handshape R begins to emerge somewhere in the middle of all handshape chart before and after other handshapes.
In a case study of baby Juli, she began to form the letter R at 18 months as a babble, then it re-emerged at 21 months when naming the letter R. She comfortably formed the handshape R, but it wasn't integrated with some ASL words such as "rocket" yet, only the letter R as a standalone. At age 2;1, she first incorporated the handhsape R into an ASL sign/word ROCKET.
A month later at age 2;2, she also used the handshape "R" in many ASL words that contain the handshape "U" (e.g. TRAIN) and "V", even though she knew the difference between R and U / V handshapes or letters. The handshape R helped her transition from R to U and V in ASL words (to help keep the ring finger and pinkie down). It's kind of an analogue to when one tries to keep their legs together when sitting but it's hard so they cross their legs.
Keep in mind that language development varies from child to child, but milestones are overall similar.
Around the World
There are different manual alphabets around the world. One example is the British manual alphabet used in British Sign Language (BSL) which is the language of deaf people in the U.K.
Description: Dominant bent index finger (i.e. "X") with its side rests on the non-dominant palm of the flat, palm-up hand.
[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 R. [Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]