Here’s another thrilling episode of Signing Saturday with your hostess, Dory!
Well, we’re not getting any younger; let’s dive right in.
First, one of the things you need to understand about signing is this: a sign is NOT equal to a word. A sign is a concept. For example, the sign most commonly known as FINISH can also mean ‘done’ or ‘already’ or ‘complete’ or… well, I could go on, or you could consult a thesaurus. Guess which I’m going with? Good guess.
Next, in sign, there is no am, is, are, was, were, the, a, an… and a whole bunch more. Well, actually, let me clarify that; in most kinds of sign language that’s true. There is one kind that uses those, plus special endings for -ed and -ing and a whole bunch more, but that’s more likely to be used in schools while they’re teaching English.
We’re always going to be talking about two forms of sign here. We’re going to talk about ASL (American Sign Language) and PSL (Pidgin Sign Language) and they do NOT use those signs.
Then, word order… it’s weird. ASL and PSL use the same signs, but different word order. ASL starts a sentence with a topic and moves from there (there’s a whole bunch more nuances to ASL grammar, but this is the key one). PSL uses mostly English word order. So take this sentence, “Do you want a pop?” In ASL, you’re going to sign POP – WANT – YOU with your eyebrows raised through the whole sentence. In PSL, you’d sign YOU – WANT – POP with raised eyebrows. Most Deaf folk sign ASL. PSL is used mostly by people learning to sign. People who use ASL will usually switch easily to converse with someone using PSL. Then as you start to get the hang of it, you can gradually change your word order.
Ok, last… you earned a naughty sign.
You know that sign you use for ‘whatever’ where you make a W with your hands? Sure, you’ve seen it. Lots of hearing people use it. Well, a variation that you probably haven’t seen is pretty commonly used in the Deaf Community. Do your ‘whatever’ sign.
Now, instead of your index fingers up, put them down and put up your tall fingers.
Congratulations– You just signed ‘what the f**k ever’!
Alright, that will conclude the fourth episode of “Signing Saturday.” I’m taking suggestions for what signs you want to learn, as well as any ideas to make this more interactive.
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Want to know more signs but you can’t wait for the next episode? This is my favorite ASL site.
Want more about Deaf culture? Google Deaf Culture.
Rip it, roll it, and punch it, dude. Word. T’yaw mutha. In sign, of course.