An ASL Dictionary

Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs, fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada.

And Much More!

Signing Savvy is an ideal resource to use while you learn sign language. It includes the ability to view large sign videos, build your own word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, ...and more

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ASL glossing and conventions

ASL glossing and conventions

Learning Tips   |  Sunday, April 13, 2014

By Marta Belsky

This article is by Marta Belsky. Marta is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 20 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users.

Since ASL is a visual-gestural language, not a spoken consecutive language, it can only truly be recorded in video and not captured in writing. Many writing systems have been developed for ASL, but none of them have reached a critical mass, probably because it is difficult to capture handshape, location, palm orientation, movement and non-manual signals in a written word. For that reason, when scribing ASL, many people rely on the linguistic convention called "glossing," which means writing a word in your native language for each sign that appears. This is not a perfect system, but it can be useful when discussing the syntax of other languages, signed or spoken.

Signing Terminology

Glossing - Writing a word in your native language for each sign that appears. ASL is not a writen language, so glossing is not a translation, but a description of what was signed, including signs used, important body language, and accepted glossing symbols.


When writing an English gloss for an ASL sentence, conventions are followed.

Here are a few glossing conventions that are commonly used:

  • Signs are capitalized, such as BOY, HOUSE, ME
  • Words that are fingerspelled have dashes written between the letters, such as M-A-R-Y, D-O-G, S-A-L-E
  • Classifiers are written as CL: handshape, such as CL:3 (vehicle), CL: 55 (feet), CL: CC (telephone pole)

Signing Terminology

Classifiers - A classifier is a combination of a classifier handshape and movement root that are made to reference whole phrases with a single sign. First a signer will sign the subject, then they can use a classifier to describe something about that subject - what it looks like, where it is, how it moves or behaves.

These are not all of the conventions, these are only a few. What other ASL conventions do you know? Share them in the comments below.

 

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About the Author

Marta Belsky is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 20 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users. Marta is on the Lansing Community College Interpreter Training Program Advisory Board and has also been a board member for the Michigan Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and the Michigan Chapter of American Sign Language Teachers Association.

More about Marta  |  Articles by Marta

Signing Savvy announces new Sign Language Advisory Board

Site News   |  Monday, March 24, 2014

By Jillian Winn

When we set out over six years ago to create Signing Savvy, we had a vision to create the most comprehensive online sign language resource for educators, interpreters, students, or anyone interested in American Sign Language. Recently, we formed a Sign Language Advisory Board. The advisory board advises Signing Savvy on sign language matters and provides guidance to help Signing Savvy accomplish the company's mission and goals.
 
The growing Sign Language Advisory Board is made up of thought leaders who have a deep subject manner expertise in sign language and are leaders in their respective fields. Our goal is to have a diverse advisory board with various backgrounds and experience to provide a wide range of advice and expertise. We are happy to announce our first three advisory board members:
 

Marta Belsky

Marta Belsky is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 20 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users. Marta is interested in working with Signing Savvy to help share American Sign Language with people across the country, she said “It is important to me that people learn the language the ‘right’ way and learn about Deaf Culture at the same time – you can’t have one without the other!” Learn more about Marta…
 

Brenda Cartwright

Brenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, well known presenter, and author of several best selling sign language and interpreting textbooks from the RID Press. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Director of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan. Brenda hopes to help improve Signing Savvy while using it as a resource for her interpreter training program. Learn more about Brenda...
 

R. Ben Roux

R. Ben Roux has a background in advocacy, Information Technology and software development. He is the Advisory Board Chairman of the City of Boston Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities. Ben is interested in working with Signing Savvy because he is committed to advocacy and service to others, especially the deaf, hard of hearing and people with disabilities. These initiatives are particularly meaningful to Ben as he is profoundly deaf. Learn more about Ben...
 
 
Together with these thought leaders we will continue improving Signing Savvy.  Watch for future blog articles from our advisory board members and for upcoming announcements from us on improvements being made to Signing Savvy based on feedback from them.  As always, we welcome suggestions and feedback from you, our members and users.
 
 

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All you need is LOVE...

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, February 11, 2014

By John Miller

Sing it or sign it, either way the Beatles knew what they were talking about there!

We thought it would be appropriate with Valentine’s Day this week to write a blog covering all the different ways to show LOVE... in sign language that is!

Tell your Valentine I Love You in American Sign Language (ASL)
NOTE: You can also download this Poster (PDF) and print it.

Many people know and use the sign for I LOVE YOU. This sign is used universally throughout the country and the world. We see it all over television, at sporting events and during "shout outs" to our mothers. The sign is actually the combination of the fingerspelled letters I, L and Y.

The ASL signs for I L and L are combined to sign I Love You.

I have had people ask why the sign looks similar to the one that some people hold up at rock concerts, where the thumb is held down and the pointer finger and the little finger are held up. It is NOT the same. Remember, the thumb of the Y hand has to be present in order for you to be signing the I LOVE YOU sign.

Another sign that gets confused with the I LOVE YOU sign is the Hawaiian "shaka" sign meaning aloha, hang loose, or right on. Interestingly, this is also the ASL sign for YELLOW. Again, this is a different sign, as it leaves out the pointer finger. It is basically just shaking the Y hand.

Signs that do not mean I Love You.

The actual sign for LOVE is both arms folded across the chest. That is to show love or have love for another person or animal, etc.

Love in American Sign Language

Another sign for LOVE that you will see on the site is the kissing of the back of the S hand, then pulling it away from the mouth. This is a sign that is generally used to show a passion for something, like a certain type of food or a type of music.

Love in American Sign Language

Some people have asked why we don’t list the I LOVE YOU sign under the sign for LOVE on our site. It is because they are different signs and we don’t want new signers to confuse the single I LOVE YOU handshape with the general meanings and uses of the word LOVE. We don’t want you to confuse the signs and use the I LOVE YOU sign in a place where you really mean to just say LOVE.

An example of this would be this sentence: My mother loves to travel. You wouldn’t want to say: MOTHER + MINE + I LOVE YOU + TRAVEL (It just doesn’t make sense.) You need to use the sign LOVE there.

Another example sentence: I love to eat deep dish pizza! You wouldn’t want to say: PIZZA + THICK + I LOVE YOU + EAT. You need to use the kissing the back of the hand version of LOVE in this instance.

I hope that clears up some of your LOVE issues! Spread the LOVE and Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Signing Savvy!

 

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Derrick Coleman inspires many as first deaf NFL player to play in a Super Bowl

General Interest   |  Sunday, February 9, 2014

By Jillian Winn

Check out this Duracell commercial about deaf NFL player Derrick Coleman.  
 
NOTE: We by no means are promoting (or not promoting) the use of their batteries or hearing aids in general, just want to make sure that you did not miss this inspirational story.

 
Derrick Coleman is the first deaf NFL player to ever play in the Super Bowl.  Previously, there were two deaf defensive players in the NFL - Bonnie Sloan was the first deaf player to play in the NFL in 1973 for St. Louis and defensive player Kenny Walker joined Denver in 1991.
 
Coleman attended public school where he played sports.  Instead of giving up when other kids made fun of him and others told him he wouldn’t be able to do something, he turned his hearing aids off, and as he says in the Durecell commercial about himself, “I’ve been deaf since I was 3, so I didn’t listen.”
 
Coleman wears a skull cap under his helmet to secure water-resistant hearing aids during games and quarterback Russell Wilson takes his mouthpiece out during huddles so Coleman can read his lips.  Coleman repeats the play to his teammates or asks for clarification if needed, he’s not afraid to ask for help.
 
His success on the field has made him an inspiration to others, but his actions off the field, have made him a role model. He says that the reason he wanted to do the Durecell commercial was so he could share his story with kids in the hard of hearing and deaf community and to encourage them to fight for their dreams.
 
“Nobody is perfect. I wear a hearing aid, some people have glasses, some people have depression. Everybody has something. But as long as you don’t let that get in the way of what you want to do, you can do anything you want to do.”
 
References and More Information:
 
 
 

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Give the Gift of Signing

Site News   |  Thursday, December 19, 2013

By Jillian Winn

The holiday season is just around the corner and if you are like me, the thought of "who to get what" is on your mind.  A Signing Savvy membership is a unique, thoughtful, and valuable gift to offer to your friends, family, or colleagues.

In the last few years, we have received numerous requests for the ability to purchase Signing Savvy Gift Memberships.  Well, now you can!

How does it work?

When you purchase a gift membership, you will receive an Activation Code (and activation instructions) that you can email or print to include in a card or wrap up as part of a gift. The receiver of the gift will be able to use the Activation Code to gain full access to all of the Signing Savvy features. The gift membership will begin once the gift receiver activates it.

The gift that gives back.

Similar to our recommendation program, as an added bonus for purchasing the gift and giving it to someone else, you will receive time toward a full membership in return! How does it work?

  Membership Gift Purchased   What You Receive***
3-Year Membership 60 days of full membership
12-Month Membership 30 days of full membership
4-Month Membership 10 days of full membership
1-Month Membership 5 days of full membership

If you already have a full membership, the time will be added on to your membership. If you don't yet have a full membership, you will once you purchase the gift. The more gifts you give, the more you receive.

*** NOTE: You do not receive the bonus days if you gift the membership to yourself.

Get your shopping done early!

Purchase a Signing Savvy Gift Membership today and give the gift of signing.

 

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