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American Sign Language: "filler signs"


 
In a message dated 9/24/2014 10:20:27 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Chad Fisher writes:
Hi Dr. Bill,

I've written to you, I think only twice before.  This time my question may be a bit out of the ordinary.

In linguistics in college we learned about various filler words in other languages.  In English in particular these are words that are like "Um" or "uh-huh" when its just to show that you are at least pretending to be interested in what the other person is saying.  Or like when my co-worker says "Blah-blah-Blah etc." so fast that you can't get even get a thought in and then says "well one day I went to blah blah blah."  Filler words like "um", "well", and "so" can be extremely common, but they don't necessarily mean anything in the context of the dialogue (or in my co-workers case monologue), and even the word "like" as I have used it in this post is um like well just another filler word.  Anyways, I think you get the idea.
...
My question is, what are some filler signs (with the English gloss if you wouldn't mind) that are used in ASL.  I recently read about a sign for "UM" than uses an 8 hand on the chin somewhat like the "Light" sign... but I don't know how common that usage actual is in the real world.

Thank you,
Chad A. Fisher

 

Hello Chad,
Yes, certainly ASL has filler signs.
I personally don't think that "8"-on-the-chin version of "UM" will gain any substantial traction in the Deaf Community. To me it just seems very awkward and unnatural. 
I'll post a video below of myself doing some "filler" signs.
Cordially,
Dr. Bill
 



Loosely translated:
"Ah, give me a moment, um, trying to think of it, there was something -- its on the tip of my brain,  oh-I-see, yes, that's it!"
xxx
 


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