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

Sign of the Day - LL
(as in the letter L twice)

Blog Articles in Category: Learning Tips

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

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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Signing Thank You

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, December 10, 2013

By John Miller

 
We have had many people ask about signing THANK YOU to family and friends, and also giving thanks to God during this holiday season. In the case of THANK YOU to family and friends (or kind strangers!), you will want to sign the normal thank you gesture by moving your open flat hand out and down from your face, but do so in the direction of the person you are thanking.  You can remember the sign for thank you because it is similar to blowing someone a kiss when you want to thank them (and just like blowing a kiss, you would do it in the direction of the person you are thanking). 
 
Thank You
 
Remember that facial expressions are also important in conveying your message, so have a “thankful” or “happy” face (you can never go wrong with smiling!).
 
If you are giving thanks to God, you will want to use two hands to do the thank you gesture up towards the sky / heaven, gesturing to God. 
 
Thanks to God
 
 

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Holiday Sign Extravaganza

Learning Tips   |  Monday, December 9, 2013

By Jillian Winn


Tis the season to be jolly!  Below are several holiday-oriented signs and word lists to help celebrate (or at least communicate about) the holidays in sign.
 

Holiday Signs

 
We WISH you many BLESSINGS this HOLIDAY SEASON, including HEALTH, HAPPINESS, time spent with FAMILY and FRIENDS, and PEACE, LOVE, and JOY.
 
 

Santa Claus Signs

 
Have you been NAUGHTY or NICE this year? Make sure to hang your STOCKINGS and put out MILK and COOKIES for SANTA CLAUS
 
 

Christmas Signs

 
CHRISTMAS is the celebration of the BIRTH of JESUS and the close of ADVENT. ANGELS proclaim him a savior and SHEPHERDS came to adore him. WISE MEN followed a STAR to BETHLEHEM to bring Jesus GIFTS.
 
 

Chanukah / Hanukkah Signs

 
The EIGHT DAY festival of CHANUKAH, also know as the FESTIVAL of LIGHTS, COMMEMORATES the MIRACLE of OIL by lighting CANDLES.
 
 

Kwanzaa Signs

 
 
 

Make Your Own Holiday Word List

 
With Signing Savvy membership you can create your own custom word lists (and practice them with flash cards and quizzes), so if we don’t have a pre-built word list exactly how you want it, you can build your own.

 

 

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10 signs to know for Thanksgiving

Learning Tips   |  Sunday, November 24, 2013

By Jillian Winn

 

#1 Thanks / Thank You

This is what Thanksgiving is all about – giving THANKS for all of your blessings. Don’t forget to say THANK YOU when the gravy is passed! You can also see this sign in the WonderGrove Kids Use Polite Words animated lesson.

 

#2 Turkey

TURKEY is the most common main dish of Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes Thanksgiving is called “TURKEY Day.”

 

#3 Ship

In 1620, the Pilgrim SHIP called the Mayflower made the historic voyage from England to the New World. The Mayflower brought about 150 people to North America – 102 passengers from Holland and London plus the SHIP’s officers and crew.

 

#4 Pilgrim

The first Thanksgiving was a feast in 1621 at Plymouth Colony between the PILGRAMS and the Wampanoag, a Native American tribe.  The PILGRAMS left England seeking religious freedom and were early settlers of the North American colony called Plymouth Colony (present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts).

 

#5 Pumpkin

In addition to turkey, the first Thanksgiving feast included waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, squash, and PUMPKIN.  Many of these foods, with the exception of the seafood, have become a part of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.  Many people include PUMPKIN in their Thanksgiving meal by making PUMPKIN pie.

 

#6 Nuts / Pecan

Although not one of the foods included in the first Thanksgiving feast, NUTS have become a popular snack during Thanksgiving time and PECAN pie is a favorite Thanksgiving dessert for many.   The sign for NUT can be used for all types of NUTS. To be even more specific, use the sign for NUT and then fingerspell the name of the NUT you are talking about.

 

#7 Pie

Rather your favorite is apple, pecan, pumpkin, or sweet potato, make sure you know how to ask for more PIE!

 

#8 Hungry / Appetite

Talking about all this food is making me HUNGRY! The same sign can be used for HUNGRY and APPETITE. Bring your APPETITE to Thanksgiving dinner and surely you will not leave HUNGRY. You can also see this sign in the WonderGrove Kids Use Polite Words animation.

 

#9 Family

Thanksgiving is extra special when spent with FAMILY and friends. Our FAMILY and friends are an important part of what we are thankful for.

 

#10 Appreciate / Appreciation / Appreciating / Please

Giving thanks is all about APPRECIATING what we have, including the people in our lives that make it special. Make sure to show your APPRECIATION for others and you can also use this sign to say PLEASE. You can also see this sign in the WonderGrove Kids Use Polite Words animated lesson.

It’s hard to pick only ten signs to know for Thanksgiving! There are so many things that people do during Thanksgiving, including EAT, VISIT family, watch FOOTBALL, watch the Thanksgiving Day PARADE, SLEEP, SHOP, and more.  Full Members of Signing Savvy can see our Thanksgiving Word List to learn more signs, practice the signs using the flash cards and quizzing features with the pre-built word list, or create your own word list of Thanksgiving signs.

 

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