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.

Previous letter: Q and next letter S.

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.

Possible answers


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.

Letter R in BSL

Description: Dominant bent index finger (i.e. "X") with its side rests on the non-dominant palm of the flat, palm-up hand.

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.]

How to write ASL for letter R

Written ASL digit for the alphabetical letter R. [Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]

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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.

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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. :)

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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.