You can solve a lot of ASL syntax problems, if not most, using five simple tricks.

KristinaB

Emotional Mess
Premium Member
This was sent to me by email from Berry here at AllDeaf. He has given me permission to share this on the forum.


You can solve a lot of ASL syntax problems, if not most, using five simple tricks.
1


First: Learn to start at the beginning. In English the speaker often puts what they feel to be most important first, no matter where it occurs in time.
"I went to the store after I ate breakfast and drank my coffee."

In ASL you start at the beginning.


>> Breakfast eat. Coffee drink. Store go.

2
Second: Once again the English speaker puts what they feel to be the most important thing first and the next most important piece of information last and miscellaneous information in between. Speakers of English will tend to feel these really are the important things.

However it is interesting to note that every language differs on the things it (and its speakers) considers important. Ownership is very important in English and stressed at every opportunity while in Spanish you do not say “My arm” you say “The arm”. And there is at least one language native to the Americas where it is considered improper to use the word “I”. Thus you would say “This man,” or “This woman” and speak of yourself in the third person. In English speaking of yourself in the third person is considered immature.

ASL has its own priorities. In English you say,
"The wedding took place in a small church in Pittsburgh."


In ASL you start with the largest item and work down to the smallest.
>> Pittsburgh small-church wedding finish.



3
Third: In English it is often difficult to figure out exactly what is being talked about. Often what the speaker thinks is the most important thing is not treated the same in ASL. English always tends to treat the person who does the action as though they are the most important element --


"She held the small white gloves close to her chest."
In ASL it is easy. It is the first thing talked about -- It is the topic and it starts the sentence. The person being discussed is placed further down the chain of importance.
>> Gloves, small, white, held-close-to-chest (one sign) she (If it is not already understood who is being talked about.)


4

Fourth: In English in order to construct a proper sentence you constantly have to refer to time (using tense, past, present, future) place, and person, in each sentence. English is one of the most repetitive languages in the world. It repeats information over and over again.

"He walked slowly down the hill. It was steep and he did not want to hurt himself. He carefully watched where he stepped."


In ASL once you establish time, for instance in the sentence above it is the past, it remains the same time (Say yesterday) until you change it.
You don't need to keep using time indicator such as "ed" "was" "did".
And the person you are talking about remains the same until you change them, and the place remains the same until you change it. Thus you don't need to keep referring to "him, he, his".

Nor do you have to refer back to the place, in this case the hill, with the pronoun "it". It does not matter how long you talk about them or how many "sentences" you use.

“Hill he walk (show slow careful walking with the sign "walk") Hurt want not. Use the sign "see" with both hands to show how he watched.


As you can see 7 signs and 1 head shake replace all the words in English, five of which are pronouns.


5
Fifth: Remember that you don't have "I" this and "I" that in ASL. It is assumed you are talking about yourself unless or until you specify otherwise.

Other people may have other methods. These are the ones I always found most helpful.
 

GrayEagle

New Member
:ty: This is really helpful for me as a beginner student! I am printing it out to share with my husband and others in my ASL class, as a quick reference/reminder. :)
 

Grayma

New Member
I would also like permission to print this out and share it with my fellow ASL learners. Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristina.
 

KristinaB

Emotional Mess
Premium Member
:ty: This is really helpful for me as a beginner student! I am printing it out to share with my husband and others in my ASL class, as a quick reference/reminder. :)
I would also like permission to print this out and share it with my fellow ASL learners. Thanks so much for sharing this, Kristina.
Berry does not mind any who wish to print for their own sake. He is very glad to be of assistance. So, with that in mind, feel free to print and share. I have had it for about 1-2 years and it is on my external hard drive.
 

caz12

New Member
i a brit use bsl,i was watching bbc program today called 'see hear' you may know of it.i not good at doing links or anything computerish,but if you go to the'see hear'website it talks about grammer
 

GrayEagle

New Member
Wirelessly posted

" Berry does not mind any who wish to print for their own sake. He is very glad to be of assistance. So, with that in mind, feel free to print and share. I have had it for about 1-2 years and it is on my external hard drive."



Thank you! I will definitely pass it on to my classmates! :D
 
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soutthpaw

Active Member
That is a really good way of explaining a lot of ASL grammar. like it. I might try making multiple examples of each rule written in English and ASL Gloss.
 

Grayma

New Member
I liked this , but that is not strong enough. I LOVE this. I have gone back to read it at least five more times today.

Now to do the hard work of internalizing it so it becomes natural.
 

metalangel

Active Member
i a brit use bsl,i was watching bbc program today called 'see hear' you may know of it.i not good at doing links or anything computerish,but if you go to the'see hear'website it talks about grammer
BBC Two - See Hear

I don't know how many of the clips will work for people outside the UK

Thank you so much Berry and KristinaB for sharing this, it's invaluable. :ty:
 

Berry

New Member
I might point out that when speed is of the essence, such as when interpreting a speaker -- And you have not gotten an advance copy of the speech -- It is difficult, if not impossible, to do all of these changes.

It is the difference between translating and transliterating when interpreting.

When conversing the rhetorical question is essential to good ASL, but it takes time an interpreter often does not have. So more English style constructions are often/usually used.

This is why a lot of interpreters prefer fields, such as medical, where they can insist on the consecutive rather than simultaneous style.
 

metalangel

Active Member
Bah! Can't seem to get any of the media to play.

Looks good though.
The BBC is paid for with a 'licence fee' (explanation if you're interested) so content like their iPlayer (which lets you watch almost any BBC show again online) tends to block out non-UK internet access so that the BBC can make money selling those shows abroad. It's a ridiculous arrangement IMHO.

Do you want me to see if there's any way of getting some of the clips for you?
 

Berry

New Member
The BBC is paid for with a 'licence fee' (explanation if you're interested) so content like their iPlayer (which lets you watch almost any BBC show again online) tends to block out non-UK internet access so that the BBC can make money selling those shows abroad. It's a ridiculous arrangement IMHO.

Do you want me to see if there's any way of getting some of the clips for you?
The whole thing reads like something straight out of a Jonathan Swift novel.

I see you reside in South Wales. Don't get yourself in any trouble on my account. I'm sure all the information is out there somewhere in another form.

Thank you for the offer though, it was generous of you.
 

Caidemma

New Member
This is so helpful! I can see that ASL uses less signs than english uses words so it seems easier, and this will definately help me with sentence structure. Thanks!
 

breelligerent

New Member
This was sent to me by email from Berry here at AllDeaf. He has given me permission to share this on the forum.


You can solve a lot of ASL syntax problems, if not most, using five simple tricks...
Thank you Berry for this list, and thank you KristinaB for passing it on! I'm still learning ASL and have been having a very hard time with syntax. I always get confused about what would be considered the "topic", so this list is very helpful! :ty:
 

MusicInMotion67

New Member
Well this is long but It should cover any questions y'all have about ASL Syntax. It's not that it's hard but simply a different language that has to be learned and any new language is difficult at first, it will eventually become second nature to you. I wanted to attach this but couldn't find a way to do so, so I hope I don't get in trouble for this being so long and I hope it helps the students in here.


ASL Syntax(word order)

Okay. So, ASL has its' own grammar. It is hard. :/ There are many things you have to Not add and change the order when signing correctly. Therefore, I have a 'cheat sheet' for yall. Below this 'cheat sheet' are other websites' explanation. So, I apologize if you don't get it, it takes a teacher and a lot of time and effort to master it. ;) I do NOT teach you all of the syntax in the first year or two. Only level III and IV will learn major details and the extremely hard stuff! :)

Grammar Rules in ASL when WRITING or Signing:

1. Never use am/is/are/was/were/ (linking verbs)
2. Never use word-endings/suffixes/prefixes
3. Deixis-point for personal PN’s.
4. Shoulder shifting when there is a (comma/an/or) more than one item/description.
5. Write the big picture first(concept)(remember window ceil) and then add the details…more broad ones first, then work it down to the smallest detail.
6. Don’t sign ‘or’, use which after signing both words that need to be chosen from. And shoulder shifting.
7. Don’t sign ‘and’, use commas! And shoulder shifting.
8. Capitalize when writing in ASL gloss
9. F.S.(fingerspelling) Use hyphens between each letter. Ex: i-g-l-o-o
10. Write in the Present tense.
11. Don’t use articles. (a, an, some, the)
12. Don’t use prepositions! (about, to, for, on, above,)---Use rhetorical sentences instead--
13. Use a hyphen between two English words that are signed as one. (ex. Same-here, me-too,what-are-you-doing)
14. Adjectives are usually AFTER what they describe.
15. Time signs are at the first of the concept. (ex: last week…, tomorrow…, next year…)
16. Don’t use I, use me.
17. No punctuation (., !, ?) (use your NMS for that!)
18. WH-questions are normally at theEND.
19. No gerunds. (-ing)
20. No infinitives. (to)
21. For Classifiers use (CL:5claw)
22. For FS loan signs use (#bus)
23. When using the signed question mark write QM not ?



The following is from the Master ASL text book from Jason Zinza:

ASL Up Close I Want to Know . . .

Why do I point twice?

• Pointing back to yourself or the person you’re talking about shows completion of a train of though. This allows somebody else to begin signing without interrupting you.

• Using deixis at the end of a sentence is called a closing signal.

• Closing signals are especially important when asking questions using the Question Maker, or WH-Face. Remember to use a closing signal when:


• you make a statement or comment about YOURSELF or someone else.

• asking a question
(ex: Me go bathroom me (body is hunched forward and eyebrows up(NMS) to show question)

When do I use the Question Mark instead of a closing signal?
Above you learned how ASL sentences are completed by pointing to a person to show that you’ve finished your thought or question. Similarly, the Question Mark sign shows that the signer has posed a question, but when to use one or the other?
The Question Mark:
• Is best used informally, between friends and people you know well;
• Is not for questions using who, what, when, why, where, which, and how;
• Is often used to ask general questions to more than one individual;
• Allows an individual to pose a question whose answer can be provided by anyone.
Ex: you turn-off-lights QM

closing signals:
• Are required for sentences and questions using who, what, when, why, where, which, and how;
• Are best used in formal situations between strangers, acquaintances, and student-teacher relationships;
• Allow you to ask specific questions to specific individuals.
(page 56 of Unit 2 in Master ASL)

Deixis:
• Pointing is a logical feature of a signed language. It isn’t rude or impolite, but a necessity when conjugating the verbs To Be. If a person or object is not visible, point to an empty space and continue signing. Using the index finger to point is called deixis.
• (for I am, me, you are, he/she/it is, we are, us, you are (plural) and they are.)
• Ex: They are busy. THEY BUSY
• Ex: We are happy. WE HAPPY
Topic Comment:
• topic-comment follows the WH-sign. In topic-comment language the signer presents info and then makes the info either a statement or question by adding a comment.
Ex: XI(deixis) NAME WHAT What is his name
PARTY WHEN When is the party?

Subject Verb Object (SVO)
• is used when WH-Signs are NOT needed
• WHY is used as a bridge/connector between two separate SVO phrases.
Ex: I am not going to school because I’m sick.
ME(NOT) GO SCHOOL WHY ME SICK ME

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I hope this helps yall. I may add to this later, but this is a start.
Ms. Maclin

I bought a new book this summer called ASL The Easy Way and they have their "The first Ten Rules of ASL Grammar." I think they have a good summary. Here they are:
First, you need to remember that ASL is a 3-D language. It is Visual. YOu must see it to understand it. Second, ASL is spatial; signers create meaning in the space in front of them. Lastly, ASL is 'gestural.' Don't confuse yourself and think that means ASL=gestures. NO!!! But the hands form signs that articualte thoughts. "Even though ASL grammar shares some similiarities with spoken languages, its visual, spatial, and gestrual festures combine to create some grammatical structures that are unparalled in the world of spoken languages. Thus, as you learn about ASL, look for similarities with English adn other spoken languages, but also get ready for a journey through new linguistic territory. In particular, the spatial qualities of ASL grammar allow a signer to express more than one thought simultaneously-a characteristic that cannot be duplicated in English. To help you get started in mastering a new grammar, this chapter introduces you to ten basic ASL rules."

1. Topic/Comment. In a simple topic/comment sentence, the topic is described first followed by the comment.

(NMS) The following nonmanual signals play a role in identifying the topic in a topic/comment sentence structure. The signer(1) maintains eye contact, with the person being addressed, (2) raises the eyebrows and tilts the head slightly forward when signing the topic, (3) holds the last sign of the comment a little longer than the other signs, and (4)pauses slightly between signing the topic and the comment.

2. Tense with Time Adverbs. The time adverb is placed at the beginning or near the beginning of a sentence.


3. Simple yes/no questions. In short sentences that ask a yes/no question, the order of the signs is variable.

4. Long yes/no questions. use a topic/question format.

5. Information-seeking questions. Simple questions that ask for information have variable sentence structures and rely on nonmanual signals to distinguish them from declarative sentences.

6. Pronominalization. Pronouns are indicated by pointing to either (a) a person or thing that is present or (b) a place in the signing space that is used as a referent point for a person or thing. Pointing is mostly done with the index finger, but eye gazing and other handshapes are sometimes used.

7. Rhetorical Questions. IN a rethorical quesiton, the signer asks a question and then answers it.
8. Ordering of simple sentences. In simple sentences the verb can be placed before or after the object of a sentence.
9. Conditional Sentences. IN a conditional sentence, first the condition is described then the outcome of this condition is described.

All conditional sentences MUST be accompanied by NMS.
10. Negation. You can negate a thought by placing a negative sign before the verb or by first describing a topic and then signing the appropriate negative sign or giving a negative head shake.
This is adapted from lifeprint.com:
Here are a few explanations to American Sign Language Syntax(word order). This explains how you are suppose to sign a sentences and in what order. This helps you to interpret sentences from English to ASL. 


Syntax
American Sign Language (ASL) Syntax
In American Sign Language, we have a different syntax. In general, the order of our words in a sentence follows a "TOPIC" "COMMENT" arrangement. This is could also called "subject" + "predicate" sentence structure.
Plus you will often see this structure: "TIME" + "TOPIC" + "COMMENT."
For example:
"WEEK-PAST ME WASH CAR "
or "WEEK-PAST CAR WASH ME "

I personally prefer the first version. Depending on which expert you listen to, you will hear that one way is better than the other. Anyone who tells you that ASL can't use a "subject" + "verb" + "object" sentence structure is simply denying reality. ASL uses SVO quite often. What it doesn't use is "subject" + "be-verb" + "object." For example, in ASL you wouldn't sign the "is" in "HE IS MY BROTHER." You'd simply sign "HE MY BROTHER" while nodding your head. Instead of signing "IS" you nodded your head. "IS" didn't "disappear" it simply took a "non-manual" form. Which is why we say that ASL doesn't use "be verbs." The concept of being and existing are still conveyed--but we do it without "be verbs." Instead we nod our heads, and/or use signs like "HAVE" and "TRUE."
________________________________________
"I am a teacher," could be signed:
"I TEACHER I"
"I TEACHER"
"TEACHER I"
also, "I am from Utah," could be signed:
"I FROM UTAH I"
"I FROM UTAH"
"FROM UTAH I"
________________________________________
All of the above examples are "correct." You could sign any of those sentences and still be signing ASL. My philosophy is to do the "correct" version that works for the greatest number of signers. I've lived in Utah, California, Indiana, Washington D.C., Texas, and Oregon, plus I've visited quite a few other places. It has been my experience during my various travels that "I STUDENT" and "I FROM CALIFORNIA" work just fine and are less confusing than "STUDENT I" and "FROM CALIFORNIA I."
As far as a sentence without "be" verbs, the English sentence "I am a teacher" would be signed:
"TEACHER ME " or even "ME TEACHER." You drop the "am" and instead nod your head.


Master ASL UNIT THREE p. 18

The second basic structure of American Sign Language is used when WH-Signs are not needed, and follows a
subject-verb-object (SVO) structure. This format is more familiar to English speakers. However, why often
acts as a “bridge” or “connector” between two separate SVO phrases. When usingwhy this way, raise your
eyebrows.

(What? Its Name)
I am not going to school because I’m sick.
Topic
(Its name)
Comment
(What is it?)
When is the party? / The party is on Saturday.

Topic-Comment Structure
American Sign Language uses one of two
different grammatical structures depending
on what is being signed. The first
structure is called topic-comment and is
followed when signing with the WH-Signs
(see Page 64). In topic-comment languages
the signer presents information and then
makes the information either a statement
or question by adding a comment. English
does not use topic-comment structure
often so becoming used to ASL grammar
can be a challenge. Keep in mind that
while using ASL signs in English word
order may be easy to do, it is no different
than speaking in Spanish but following
English word order — you won’t make
complete sense in either language.


Ex:I am not going to school because I’m sick.
ASL: me (not-nms) go school why me sick me.



Master ASL UNIT TWO • p. 18
ASL Up Close
The Signed Question Mark
Each of the signs below shares more than just the same basic handshape: A question
is being asked or in the case of test, several questions. In many ways, this
handshape is a signed question mark. The signed question mark does not replace
the Question-Maker. It is used to emphasize that a question has been asked and that
the signer expects a response.
The sign to ask is directional and follows the rules of directionality,
as seen in the examples. The sign ask me(plural) means Do you
have any questions? if paired with the Question-Maker.

Ex. You can see signed on the internet…ch. 2 pg. 18
Question Mark
I ask you
To ask
You ask me
I ask everybody
Ask me (plural)

I Want to Know . . .
When do I use the Question Mark instead of a closing signal?
In Unit One you learned how ASL sentences are completed by pointing to a person to show that you’ve
finished your thought or question. Similarly, the Question Mark sign shows that the signer has posed a
question, but when to use one or the other?
The Question Mark:
• Is best used informally, between friends and people you know well;
• Is not for questions using who, what, when, why, where, which, and how;
• Is often used to ask general questions to more than one individual;
• Allows an individual to pose a question whose answer can be provided by anyone.
Other closing signals:
• Are required for sentences and questions using who, what, when, why, where, which,and how;
• Are best used in formal situations between strangers, acquaintances, and student-teacher relationships;
• Allow you to ask specific questions to specific individuals.
(page 20 of Unit 2 in Master ASL)



Answers to ASL questions/syntax/rules from:

American Sign Language: Definition from Answers.com

Word order
The basic constituent order of ASL is subject-object-verb. This is the order of words in a clause; however, either the subject or the object, or both, may be unexpressed in the main clause of an utterance, as ASL is a pro-drop language. In practice there is a great deal of flexibility to ASL word order, made possible by the use of topics andtags. Both are indicated with non-manual features. Within a noun phrase, the word order is noun-number and noun-adjective.
ASL does not have a copula (linking 'to be' verb). For example, my hair is wet is signed 'my hair wet', and my name is Pete may be signed '[name my]TOPIC P-E-T-E'.
Topic and main clauses
A topic sets off background information that will be discussed in the following main clause. Topic constructions are not often used in standard English, but they are common in some dialects, as in,
That dog, I never could hunt him.
In ASL, the eyebrows are raised during the production of a topic [mention how this differs from a question], and often a slight pause follows:
'[meat] I like lamb'
As for meat, I prefer lamb.
ASL utterances do not require topics, but their use is extremely common. They are used for purposes of information flow, to set up referent loci (see above), and to supply objects for verbs which are grammatically prevented from taking objects themselves (see below).
Without a topic, the dog chased my cat is signed:
'dog chase my cat'
However, people tend to want to set up the object of their concern first and then discuss what happened to it. In English, we do this with passiveclauses: my cat was chased by the dog. In ASL, topics are used with similar effect:
[my cat]TOPIC dog chase,
or literally My cat, the dog chased it.
If the word order of the main clause is changed, the meaning of the utterance also changes:
[my cat]TOPIC chase dog
means my cat chased the dog (literally, my cat, it chased the dog.)
Subject pronoun tags
Information may also be added after the main clause as a kind of 'afterthought'. In ASL this is commonly seen with subject pronouns. These are accompanied by a nod of the head, and make a statement more emphatic:
'boy fall'
The boy fell down. versus
'boy fall [he]TAG
The boy fell down, he did.
The subject need not be mentioned, as in
'fall'
He fell down. versus
'fall [he]TAG
He fell down, he did.
Aspect, topics, and transitivity
As noted above, in ASL aspectually marked verbs cannot take objects. To deal with this, the object must be known from context so that it does not need to be further specified. This is accomplished in two ways:
1. The object may be made prominent in a prior clause, or
2. It may be used as the topic of the utterance at hand.
Of these two strategies, the first is the more common. For my friend was typing her term paper all night to be used with a durative aspect, this would result in
'my friend type T-E-R-M paper. typeDURATIVE all-night'
The less colloquial topic construction may come out as,
'[my friend]TOPIC, [T-E-R-M paper]TOPIC, typeDURATIVE all-night'
Negation
Negated clauses may be signaled by shaking the head during the entire clause. A topic, however, cannot be so negated; the headshake can only be produced during the production of the main clause. (A second type of negation starts with the verb and continues to the end of the clause.)
Questions
Yes-no questions are signaled by raising the eyebrows, while [[Five Ws|wh- (information) questions] require a lowering of the eyebrows. Raised eyebrows [note how these differ] are also used for rhetorical questions which are not intended to elicit an answer.
Rhetorical questions are much more common in ASL than in English. For example, I don't like garlicmay be signed,
'[I like]NEGATIVE [what?]RHETORICAL, garlic'.
This strategy is commonly used instead of signing the word 'because' for clarity or emphasis. For instance, I love to eat pasta because I am Italianwould be signed,
'I love eat pasta [why?]RHETORICAL, I Italian'.
Relative clauses
Relative clauses are signaled by tilting back the head and raising the eyebrows and upper lip. This is done during the performance of the entire clause. There is no change in word order. For example, the dog which recently chased the cat came homewould be signed
'[recently dog chase cat]RELATIVE come home',
where the brackets here indicate the duration of the non-manual features. If the sign 'recently' were made without these features, it would lie outside the relative clause, and the meaning would change to the dog which chased the cat recently came home.
Deixis
In ASL signers set up regions of space (loci) for specific referents (see above); these can then be referred to indexically by pointing at those locations with pronouns and indexical verbs.
Pronouns
Personal pronouns in ASL are indexic. That is, they point to their referent, or to a locus representing their referent. Meier 1990 demonstrates that only two grammatical persons are distinguished in ASL:First person and non-first person, as in Damin. Both persons come in several numbers as well as with signs such as 'my' and 'by myself'.
Meier provides several arguments for believing that ASL does not formally distinguish second from third person. For example, when pointing to a person that is physically present, a pronoun is equivalent to either 'you' or '(s)he' depending on the discourse. There is nothing in the sign itself, nor in the direction of eye gaze or body posture, that can be relied on to make this distinction. That is, the same formal sign can refer to any of several second or third persons, which the indexic nature of the pronoun makes clear. In English, indexic uses also occur, as in 'I need you to go to the store and you to stay here', but not so ubiquitously. In contrast,several first person ASL pronouns, such as the plural possessive ('our'), look different from their non-first person equivalents, and a couple pronouns do not occur in the first person at all, so first and non-first persons are formally distinct.
Personal pronouns have separate forms for singular ('I' and 'you/(s)he') and plural ('we' and 'you/they'). These have possessive counterparts: 'my', 'our', 'your/his/her', 'your/their'. In addition, there are pronoun forms which incorporate numerals from two to five ('the three of us', 'the four of you/them', etc.), though the dual pronouns are slightly ideosyncratic in form (i.e., they have a K rather than 2 handshape, and the wrist nods rather than circles). These numeral-incorporated pronouns have no possessive equivalents.
Also among the personal pronouns are the 'self' forms ('by myself', 'by your/themselves', etc.). These only occur in the singular and plural (there is no numeral incorporation), and are only found as subjects. They have derived emphatic and 'characterizing' forms, with modifications used for derivation rather like those for verbal aspect. The 'characterizing' pronoun is used when describing someone who has just been mentioned. It only occurs as a non-first person singular form.
Finally there are formal pronouns used for honored guests. These occur as singular and plural in the non-first person, but only as singular in the first person.
ASL is a pro-drop language, which means that pronouns are not used when the referent is obvious from context and is not being emphasized.
Indexical verbs
Within ASL there is a class of indexical (often called 'directional') verbs. These include the signs for 'see', 'pay', 'give', 'show', 'invite', 'help', 'send', 'bite', etc. These verbs include an element of motion that indexes one or more referents, either physically present or set up through the referent locus system. If there are two loci, the first indicates the subject and the second the object,direct or indirect depending on the verb, reflecting the basic word order of ASL. For example, 'give' is a bi-indexical verb based on a flattened M/O handshape. For 'I give you', the hand moves from myself toward you; for 'you give me', it moves from you to me. 'See' is indicated with a V handshape. Two loci for a dog and a cat can be set up, with the sign moving between them to indicate 'the dog sees the cat' (if it starts at the locus for dog and moves toward the locus for cat) or 'the cat sees the dog' (with the motion in the opposite direction), or the V hand can circulate between both loci and myself to mean 'we (the dog, the cat, and myself) see each other'. The verb 'to be in pain' (index fingers pointed at each other and alternately approaching and separating) is signed at the location of the pain (head for headache, cheek for toothache, abdomen for stomachache, etc.). This is normally done in relation to the signer's own body, regardless of the person feeling the pain, but may take also use the locus system, especially for body parts which are not normally part of the sign space, such as the leg.
Time-sequenced ordering
ASL makes heavy use of time-sequenced ordering, meaning that events are signed in the order in which they occur. For example, for I was late to class last night because my boss handed me a huge stack of work after lunch yesterday, one would sign 'yesterday lunch finish, boss give-me work big-stack, night class late-me'. In stories, however, ordering is malleable, since one can choose to sequence the events either in the order in which they occurred or in the order in which one found out about them.



American Sign Language (ASL) is..
http://www.accd.edu/pac/pass/Interprethome/ASLis.htm

A Visual Conceptual Language...
The word "right" has at least three different concepts and so there is a different sign for each concept.
There are different signs for:
"that is right"
"to the right"
"legal rights".
ASL is a Visual Spatial Language...
The parts of ASL are:
Location
Palm Orientation
Handshape
Movement
Facial Expression
The grammatical markers are the various facial expressions made while signing, such as:
raised eyebrows (signifying a yes/no question)
squeezed eyebrows (signifying a "wh" question - who, what, when...)
Non-manual cues show:
intensification
modification of the verb
indexing
Pronouns & Referents:
Pronouns are set up in space as referents and can be used by any person involved in the conversation. A referent is pointing to the right or left to indicate a where someone was standing when you are explaining a previous situation to a person who was not there. Referents stay the same through out the entire conversation until they are changed by one of the speakers.
ASL has a Different Grammatical Structure.
ASL has a different sentence word order:
time indicator
subject
location
direct object
verb
indirect object
ASL does not use articles (a, an, the) or the verb "to be".

Here are some examples of ASL sentences:
ASL Sentence Yesterday I I-tell-them two rain will.
English Translation I told the two of them yesterday that it would rain.

ASL Sentence We performance practice all-day finish tonight have party there my home.
English Translation We’ll practice our play all day then tonight there’ll be a party at my home.

ASL Sentence Telephone number woman she-give-me should she.
English Translation The woman should give me the telephone number.
 
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