Meaning: a language in visual-spatial modality (signing) used by Deaf people; the opposite medium of vocal-aural modality (speech) used by hearing people.
Signed language is a term equivalent to spoken language. When using one of the terms in either spoken or signed forms, be aware of whichever modality or language you're talking about.
ASL is a language rather than "a sign language" because ASL is a language, no less than spoken language as we don't say English / French / other (speech) language is a "speech language" instead of "language".
Another thing to deconstruct, people often say "I learned sign language", "I know sign language a little". Which language? Sign language. Which sign language? ASL. Okay. We don't say "I'm learning a new speech language." Right? Which speech language? French? Spanish?
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Quotations as Food for Thought:
"Sign language is a human right, it is not just an option. Not a privilege." -- Meme, 21st century.
"I cannot understand how a language like sign language - the richest in expressions, the most energetic, the most advantageous in its universal intelligibility is still so neglected and that only the deaf speak it. This is, I confess, one of those irrationalities of the human mind that I cannot explain." -- Pierre Desloges, 1779.
"The belief that speech is central to language is an analog to the belief that earth is center of the universe. The former is still practiced today -- hundreds of years older than the latter." -- Jolanta Lapiak, 2000s.
Filter word: Enter a keyword in the 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 parial word to see variations of the word.
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.
Don't forget to click back to "All" 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! Practice your alphabetical index skill or do eye-sharpening. :)
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.
Grammar: 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 seaching signed words 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.
Variation: Some ASL signs have regional (and generational) variations across North America. Some variations are included as much as possible, but for specifically local variations, interact with your local community to learn their variations.
Inflection: Many ASL words, especially verbs, in the dictionary are a "base"; be aware that many of them are grammatically inflectable within ASL sentences. Some entries have sentence examples.
Contextual meaning: Some ASL signs in the dictionary may not mean the same in different contexts and/or ASL sentences. You will see some examples in video sentences.
ASL is very much alive and indefinitely constructable as any spoken language. The best way to use ASL right is to immerse in daily language interactions and conversations with Deaf/Ameslan people (or ASLians).