WORK in sign language

"How do you say 'work' in American Sign Language (ASL)?"

Meaning: a job or activity that you do regularly especially in order to earn money; the place where you do your job; activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant "S" (handshape), palm down (orientation), dominant wrist taps twice (movement) on the top of the passive or non-dominant "S" handshape.


Word associations: WORKFORCE, WORKAHOLIC

Opposite: PLAY

Kids say the darndest thing

Kids say the darndest thing in sign language. Watch what Juli says in ASL.

Observe a couple of things in the video. At age 3, this child signed left-handed and one-handed while holding a spoon in her right hand, even though she was right-handed. Yet, it was still comprehensible. Perhaps it's an analog to vocally talking while munching.

At this age, children from baby to preschool age may sign comfortably with either hand, but over time, it usually forms into a dominant hand (mostly right-handed).

Another observation is that the child demonstrated a sense of humor! She teased her mother, joking about her father's different job.

Baby signing WORK in ASL

Watch the timelapse video (2015) of how the baby Juli acquires the ASL word WORK on the phonological level from babbling to word (sign) as how her language develops from one word to a sentence in a time lapse.

This baby began with the "5" handshape, one of a few unmarked handshapes. Then quickly evolved to "A" and finally "S", both also other two of the unmarked handshapes.

The baby's concept of work was probably generic in her observation based on these patterns: dad's wearing a firefighter uniform associated with being gone and then back; mom carrying a black workbag being gone and then back.

Psst... did you know that baby Juli's first babbling word was WORK? Not MILK. Nor MOM. Well, that's a long story. :D

Another "did you know that?" Studies show that babbling emerges at about 6-7 months in both speech and signing. Google neuroscientist Dr. Laura Petitto's work.

Another interesting thing is that the dominant condition shows in the baby Juli's WORK-based babbling. It means that one hand moves only as shown in a regular ASL sign, even the sign/word has the same handshape and movement in both hands, except for palm orientation.

First 100 words.

  1. again
  2. also
  3. ask
  4. bad
  5. boy
  6. but
  7. can
  8. come
  9. deaf
  10. different
  11. drink
  12. drive
  13. eat
  14. email
  15. excuse
  16. family
  17. feel
  18. few
  19. find
  20. fine
  21. fingerspell
  22. finish
  23. food
  24. for
  25. forget
  26. friend
  27. get
  28. girl
  29. give
  30. go
  31. good
  32. have, has, had
  33. he
  34. hearing
  35. hello
  36. help
  37. home
  38. how
  39. Internet
  40. know
  41. later
  42. like (feeling)
  43. little
  44. live
  45. man
  46. many
  47. me
  48. meet
  49. more
  50. my
  51. name
  52. need
  53. new
  54. no
  55. not
  56. now
  57. ok, okay
  58. old
  59. other
  60. please
  61. remember
  62. same
  63. say
  64. school
  65. see
  66. she
  67. should
  68. sign, signed word
  69. slow
  70. some
  71. sorry
  72. store
  73. take
  74. tell
  75. text, sms
  76. thank, thank you
  77. their
  78. they
  79. think
  80. time
  81. tired
  82. try
  83. understand
  84. use
  85. wait
  86. want
  87. what
  88. when
  89. where
  90. which
  91. who
  92. why
  93. will
  94. with
  95. woman
  96. work
  97. write
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

As you feel more comfortable with the first few hundreds of ASL signs, progress further with your vocabulary and learn signing more.