In this word entry, learn how to sign 'please' and variants. And watch a short video how the baby utters the magical word to get something she wishes.
How do you say 'please' in ASL (American Sign Language)?
Meaning: Used as a polite addition to requests, commands, etc.; kindly.
Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant horizontal flat hand (handshape), palm in (orientation) on the chest (location), moves in a circular motion -- forward, not backward from the signer's perspective -- clockwise motion(?).
Learner tip: Not to confuse this ASL sign with "PLEASED" or 'PLEASURE" in contexts.
More common ASL signs: THANK-YOU, WELCOME, excuse me, SORRY.
See how the ASL-speaking baby acquired the ASL word "please" and its variants in contexts and how the phonological structure developed in a time-lapse video. Note that it's not "baby sign language" which is an unacceptable cultural appropriation along with a number of misconceptions and myths. It's no more illusion than "baby speech language".*
At about age 1;3, this baby in the video above acquired the concept "please" in ASL during the one-word stage of language development. During this similar time frame, she also picked up the new word "sorry".
At age 1;9 in the video clip, the baby referred to the family video album which she wanted to watch the video clips of herself (good-bye to the dear ol' photo albums).
At age 2;1, she signed "please" before "hot chocolate". It's very subtle that can be very easily overlooked.
The toddler sometimes signed with the opposite hand. During the first 2 years, it's not unusual that toddlers sometimes sign with the other hand until the dominant hand become in stone.
* Studies in neuroscience and linguistics including first-language acquisition in signed languages show that sign language is on a par with speech language. That is, as neuroscientist Dr. Petitto noted, language is amodal.
If you want something or request for something so badly that you'd want to really beg, beg, beg to convince your buddy or little brother or older sister, you probably use a slang, bringing two flat hands together (the similar sign as "pray") with the mouthing "ppp". Get the picture? :)
Or, you'd probably say "please" with kind of a demand or a command. The movement of the ASL sign "please" is inflected to more of a brief non-circular motion and firm facial expression. You'd probably find this with a Deaf parent making a firm request of a stubborn child to do something. I suppose it's similar with the vocal tone in the hearing world, right? In disguise, it's a parental beg, ha. Not really. :)
First 100 words.
As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.