HOW in sign language
This entry shows you how to say "how" and variations in sign language (ASL) as well as how to sign the common greeting question, "how are you?" and how the ASL-speaking toddler acquires the sign. Plus, a tip on how to learn sign language.
ASL signs for HOW
There are several signs; a few of them were used in the old times.
Definition: In what way or manner; by what means; used to ask about the condition or quality of something.
Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant "10" handshape (palm orientation facing left) twisting once while in contact with passive "10" handshape.
Usage examples in contexts (note that these English sentences are not ASL; they only give examples of contexts): "How do you know?", "How are you?".
Pronunciation/articulation: Dominant "10" handshape (palm orientation facing left) twisting twice while in contact with passive "10" handshape.
Usage examples: "How did she/he know?!" as in how did they find out? translated/glossed as "IX KNOW HOW?!", "How does it work?" translated/glossed as "IX WORK HOW\/" (where the symbol \/ represents burrowed eyebrows for wh-questions).
"How are you?" sentence
For the common English greeting question, "how are you?", watch the ASL translation below:
As you might notice, there is no "ARE" in it as ASL has its own grammar and determiners. Remember ASL is not signed English. It's its own language.
Toddler signing "how"
In general, toddlers answers simple "where" questions at age 1-2 by looking, choosing, or pointing to something. At age 2-3 years, toddlers ask simple "what" and "where" questions. Then, they use "how" at age 2-3 years.
Old variation; still used today in the 21st century but less used.
Pronunciation/articulation: The tip of the dominant "15" handshape twisting while in contact with the tip of the passive "15" handshape.
Another old variation; still used today in the 21st century but less used.
Pronunciation/articulation: Both 15-handshape (palm orientation facing signer) hands in contact twisting forward.
Related signs: how many, how much.
Other WH-questions: WHAT, WHICH, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, WHO.
Sentence example: HOW YOU? for "How are you?"
Deaf/Sign Language History
This sign was seen signing by George Veditz in his 1913 film, "The Preservation of American Sign Language".
Clearly, it has been used for a very long time! But, it has become less commonly used than the other ones since the 1980s. Apparently, this original sign has evolved into the modern form.