T in sign language

This word entry contains the letter T in ASL, BSL, and its variant; T in baby signing, and related links.

Letter T in ASL

How to form the alphabetical letter T in American Sign Language.

Meaning: The 20th letter of the English alphabet, a consonant.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant fist with the thumb protruding through the web between forefinger (index finger) and middle finger.

The letter T is used often in fingerspelling, such as people's names, spoken words, etc.

Some (not all) signed languages in Europe use a similar manual alphabet as the American manual alphabet; even though, signed languages are distinctly different. One of the minor differences is the letter T.

Deaf people in Europe use the adapted T handshape as illustrated in the video above, because the American version has an another meaning in Europe.

T in baby signing

The T handshape is one of a large number of marked handshapes, which is difficult to form for ASL-speaking babies until about 24 months or so, just like some spoken sounds are difficult to acquire until later months.

In my case study of baby Juli, my documentation shows that she began to form the letter T at age 2;2. Around this time, she could wiggle her thumb in the ASL word "turtle". But, she comfortably formed T at age 2;7 in such ASL words as #TV and TOILET.

This milestone is in conjunction with linguistics studies in ASL language acquisition that the letter T emerges somewhere, if I recall right, in the middle range of the chart of handshapes.

This might surprise many people that thumb is not as easy to manipulate for babies as the fingers in sign language. Juli didn't use the thumb in MOTHER until the similar timeline as TURTLE and letter T. This topic is related to the study of "proximalization".

In contrast, the unmarked handshape "baby-O" (what looks like "20") emerged at about 13 months as found in EYEGLASSES, WATER, EAT (all handshape error) before she formed the correct handshapes for these words at later months.

By age 3 and half, an ASL-speaking child may be able to fingerspell the whole alphabet A to Z with the correct handshapes.

Vocabulary activity with "T"

Can you find ASL signs with the handshape "T" as many as you can?

Answers

Relatively very few -- TOILET, letter T (ha), PERIOD-of-time (variation), TEMPLE (variation), TAN, TURKEY (old, possibly obsolete)...

T in BSL

Some different signed languages in different countries share the similar manual alphabets with a few minor differences. And, some countries have both different manual alphabets and distinct signed languages.

T in BSL
T in BSL

While the Commonwealth nations share the same spoken language -- English, the signed languages in these countries are different with their own roots of history. Not only British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) differ from each other, their manual alphabets are distinct as well.

Related words

Previous letter: S and next letter U.

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 T

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

Feeling lucky? Random word

Basic word starters: hello / learn / ASL / sign language / alphabet / love / I love you / please / thank you / welcome...

Search Tips and Pointers

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.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

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.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

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.

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.