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Fingerspelling 2: 

Section:  Fingerspelling 1:  Introduction  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8   |  9  |  Lexicalized  |  Font  | Quizzes  |  Practice


Amber:  M and N appear to be the same, how do I sign the difference?

DrVicars:  Look close, the M uses three fingers over the thumb, the N uses only two. Does that help or do I need to be more specific?

Amber: Thank you, that does it.

DrVicars: How do you make double letters ? Anybody know ?

Amber: No

Tigie: Move your hand?

Jessie: Do it twice side to side.

Lii: Do you sign the letter and move slightly for the next letter?

Tigie: That's what I meant.

DrVicars: Right. You move the letter to the right (about two inches), or relax and reform the fingers--or you can use a very, very, small bounce (and it isn't so much a bounce as it is a tiny back and then forward again movement--less than a half-inch). All three methods work well, but try to avoid any large bounces of the hand, -- that drives some people nuts.  If you are left handed and you are fingerspelling double letters then you move your hand to the left instead of the right.  Also, while I'm on the subject of lefties, the "j" curves inward like drawing a backward "j."  Righties draw a normal "j."

Lii: What happens when you accidentally sign the wrong letter? Do you just redo it?

DrVicars: I just redo it. I guess you could wave the hand back and forth in the air little bit as if "erasing" the letter, but 99 percent of the time it is obvious to the watcher what you meant so you don't need to worry about spelling errors.

Art: I have a hypercard shareware that shows the ASL alphabet.

DrVicars: That is good. How can the others get a copy of it ?

Art: If people want it, just send me e-mail and I will send it.

[Note: Art sent it and I have posted it.  Click here.  If you don't have Hypercard (now called Hyperstudio) on an Apple computer (or clone)-- the hypercard shareware stack will be of no use to you.]

Tigie: I've been wondering how to indicate a word is over before the next word when

DrVicars: Most of the time in ASL spelling is not done for more than a single word embedded in a sentence. We just use spelling for occasional words, (proper nouns that don't have signs, peoples names, technical words that don't have signs, etc.)

In general if there is a concept that you need to express but you don't have a sign for it, you "explain" it. For example: For the color "maroon," instead of fingerspelling it, you would sign "RED, PURPLE, BROWN, APPROXIMATE." The sign for APPROXIMATE is: A five hand, palm out, makes a small circular motion (up, right, down, left,) as if waxing a car, (wax on wax off, grin) Think of having put the above mentioned colors on a piece of paper on the wall--then smearing the colors together with the palm and fingers of the hand in a circular motion. You would end up with a maroon color. The other person would understand what you meant even though he didn't know the English word "maroon." Many people spell the word then explain it. After you have established the meaning you can just spell it from then on, (or abbreviate it, or in some special instances--come up with a sign).

DrVicars: Anyway if I did need to indicate when one fingerspelled word stops and the next starts, I would use the same principle as you do when writing a sentence. You put a small space (pause) between the letters. Just like the small space there is between the words I am typing now.

Tigie: Do you put your hands down when you pause?

DrVicars: Not unless I want the other person to start signing. <grin> Suppose it takes you "point three (.3) seconds" to spell each letter of a word, then you would only need maybe a "point six (.6) second pause between words to indicate a break.

This might seem impossibly short and fast to you now, but think back to when you were in kindergarten and learning to read and write seemed so impossible. But realistically, most of us don't fingerspell more than a word or two at a time.  We use fingerspelling here and there but not to spell word after word as a method of communicating.  (There is however a system that uses that technique. It is called the Rochester Method.)

Monica: I was able to check out video tapes from the library this week. They have been a lot of help... especially since I have little contact with the Deaf community.

Lii: I did that, too.

DrVicars: Good! You all should try that.

Optional Reading:

Interestingly enough, I often see the sign "DID." This sign is obviously an English intrusion, but the fact is that many ASL signers use this bit of lexicalized fingerspelling from time to time. Notice how the pinkie comes up but the index finger doesn't come down (for the letter "i").  I don't recommend you use this in your ASL classes, but if you plan on hanging out with any Deaf people, it is a nifty little sign of which to be aware.

Animation: "did"

Section:  Fingerspelling 1:  Introduction  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8   |  9  |  Lexicalized  |  Font  | Quizzes  |  Practice


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