An ASL DictionarySigning 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 - CONDUCT
(as in the act of doing)
Signing Savvy is a great resource to use when learning sign language – whether you are taking a class or just trying to learn on your own.
Using Signing Savvy while taking a class
When you are taking a class, you can use Signing Savvy as a sign reference, build your own wordlists related to what you are learning in the class, and practice your vocabulary using the flash cards and quizzing features. Like using a textbook, Signing Savvy is a great companion to classroom learning. At about the same cost of a textbook, our site currently features more than five thousand signs – that’s about three times the number of signs in most sign language books. But Signing Savvy isn’t a textbook and is so much more than just a sign language dictionary, the site is always changing… we’re always adding more signs, content, and features. It’s really the features of the website, not just the vocabulary, that help people practice and learn sign language.
Teachers that use Signing Savvy will often create wordlists for each lesson plan or for the week’s vocabulary and then share those wordlists with their students so that they can use the Signing Savvy wordlists they have created to practice and test themselves with flash cards and quizzing. Teachers with younger students will often share the wordlists they’ve created with their student’s parents as well, so the parents can know what is being taught and try to learn the sign language vocabulary along with their child and help them practice it at home. Students and/or parents can also try to incorporate the signs from the current lesson’s wordlist into their activities and discussion for the week. Utilizing Signing Savvy’s wordlists, flash cards, and quizzing features is a great way to practice vocabulary and extend lessons from the classroom into the home.
Using Signing Savvy on your own
Signing Savvy users include people from all backgrounds and people interested in sign language for all types of reasons – from parents, friends, family, and neighbors of someone that uses sign language to communicate to students interested in learning a new language, those that have or are beginning to experience hearing loss, those that are deaf and hard of hearing, parents teaching their baby and young children sign language, people who sign songs and sign in church, teachers, interpreters, and more.
The way that most people use Signing Savvy to learn sign language is by creating wordlists and viewing wordlists created by others and then using the flash card and quizzing features to practice and test themselves. Full membership lets you have unlimited access to all of the Signing Savvy features including wordlists, flash cards, quizzing and more.
Whether you are new to sign language or a seasoned veteran, a few ways to use Signing Savvy include:
Start with the pre-built wordlists that we have (you can see some of our pre-built wordlists at the top of every page next to the search box, where it says "browse signs by..."). Test yourself on each of the wordlists using the flash card or quizzing features. Sign Language books are often organized into chapters by topics, such as numbers, colors, and animals. Using the Signing Savvy pre-built wordlists is similar to studying the vocabulary in a chapter of a sign language textbook.
Create a word list of words you want to start learning. There may be a specific topic that you’re interested in learning vocabulary for or there may be certain words that you find you would like to be able to sign regularly. Signing Savvy gives you the flexibility to create your own custom wordlist. After you have built your wordlist(s), use the flash card or quizzing feature to test yourself on those words.
View wordlists already created by other people and test your self on those words using the flash card or quizzing feature. You can view all wordlists that other Signing Savvy members have created and made public by clicking on the "Shared Lists" button, which is just under the "browser signs by..." box. There are thousand of wordlists that you can browse and search. For example, if you want to learn signs related to behavior, just type “behavior” in the search box on the shared wordlist page and click “Search for list”. It results with several lists from you to choose from, including wordlists about behavior and manners (that is just one example). Once you’ve found a wordlist that you would like to use, you can bookmark it so you can easily find it again and use the flash cards or quizzing features with the list.
- Additionally, any sign or list of signs can be printed if you want to print signs, create a hardcopy of flash cards, or paste printed signs into story books or art projects.
This article is by guest blogger Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher and well known presenter. She will be contributing blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting and deaf culture.
Interpreting can be both rewarding and challenging. Here is my list of top ten pearls of wisdom for interpreters:
- Yuo msut haev gud Englesh and spellnig skells. (Enuff sed)
Not everything can be learned in an Interpreter Training Program.
There is so much that comes from the experiences you will receive out in the field. Reflect and respect what you learned in your Interpreter Training Program (ITP) but remember that (as in life) the lessons you will continue to learn will be very valuable in your career as an interpreter.
If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re late.
Running in at the last minute bonking your clients in the head with your purse as you pass by frantically, then having to excuse yourself to use the bathroom is not professional or reassuring that you are prepared. Nothing is worse than a late interpreter! Be aware of the situation and setting for which you are interpreting, and then show up early according to those details. It will pay off in spades in the end.
Remember you pave the way for the next interpreter.
We are all a team here. Let’s not ruin it or muddy the waters by talking ill of others who have proceeded or may follow.
Doubt means don’t.
Follow your gut, it’s not just processing the coffee you drank this morning.
Remember why you started, because there are always 1000 reasons to quit.
This career can be the most rewarding, yet the most frustrating thing you have ever done... and sometimes all in the same interpreting job!
Don’t be a "smell money interpreter".
This is to remind people hopefully why they got in this profession. You chose this profession for the money? Really? To be fluent in any language you have to practice, and in this field you can only do that by hanging out with native users. But you can't just say, "be my friend so I can learn this language" and then just dump them. Once you're in the community you're in for life.
Nobody likes a know it all.
This relates back to # 2, about taking in the new experiences, as well as LISTENING and REFLECTING before you speak. If you truly feel you have something pertinent to share, you can do so, but do it in a way that looks like you are trying to be helpful, not like you have every answer and you have been dropped down directly from God to save this situation.
Know how to flatter. When to flatter.
Remember, no one likes a brown noser. Flattery might seem nice but it soon turns into kissing up. Avoid it, especially if it is fake because it is quickly recognized.
Black goes with everything. (And is very thinning!)
For those of you that don’t know, interpreters are supposed to wear solid colors. The general rule for interpreting is that you are supposed to wear solid colors that contrast with one's skin tone. I still own a lot of black clothes but as long as it contrasts with my skin tone I can also pick from fun colors called: cinnamon, pumpkin, blueberry, concord grape, plum, amethyst, moss, shale. Happy shopping!
About the Guest Author
Brenda Cartwright is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher and well known presenter. She is a child of deaf parents (her cat's name is Coda). Her undergraduate degree is in Deaf Education from Ball State University and her master's degree is in Education from Indiana University. She holds a CSC (Comprehensive Skills Certificate) as well as CI (Certificate of Interpretation) and CT (Certificate of Transliteration) certifications. For the last 30 years Brenda has been the Director of the Sign Language / Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing Michigan. In addition she is the author of several best selling textbooks from RID Press: Sign Language Interpreting: Exploring Its Art and Science, Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios, Fingerspelling in American Sign Language, Numbering In American Sign Language, and Multiple Meanings in American Sign Language.
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!
Many people know and use the sign for I LOVE YOU. This sign is used universal 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
In all my years of signing, I have never had anyone say to me, "I can’t believe how easy fingerspelling is!" or "Man, I really LOVE fingerspelling all these odd words that don’t have signs for them." It just isn’t a favorite part of the job! It is the thing that makes even seasoned interpreters break into a sweat when they have to start signing for a calculus class or in a court of law with a bunch of foreign names flying through the air.
I have come up with a few tricks through the years to make it easier, but the only true way to improve your fingerspelling skills is to practice. The practice needs to be both receptive and expressive.
Expressive - When you are signing/fingerspelling something to someone else.
Receptive - When you are reading(watching) someone else's signing/fingerspelling
There are some good websites out there that offer some examples to get that receptive practice. (See our Facebook page for one sited there.) I also want to take this opportunity to show you a few ways Signing Savvy can help you with your fingerspelling. Although we have many savvy users of the site, it can be easy to overlook features if you have not used them before.
First, Signing Savvy shows a fingerspelled version of every word. When viewing a sign video, the squares next to the word indicate the different versions of the sign that exist and there is always a "FS" version, which lets you see the word fingerspelled. It is a good reference, however, you will notice that the "FS" version individually signs each letter and does not demonstrate the flow between the letters. (Note: There are some words that should always be fingerspelled and the main video is of the word being fingerspelled - see ASL as an example and notice the flow between letters). You will notice that underneath the video it tells you what is currently being signed, including the current letter being signed when fingerspelling a whole word.
Second, if you are a Signing Savvy Full Member you can use the Signing Savvy flashcards and quizzes to test yourself on fingerspelled words by creating a wordlist of only fingerspelled versions of words. If you want to add a word that has multiple signed versions to your wordlist, just make sure you are viewing the "FS" or fingerspelled version before adding it to your wordlist. Once you have all the words you want in your wordlist, use either the flashcard or quizzing feature in Signing Savvy to test yourself.
I thought it would be interesting to put the question out there to our Facebook followers and see if they could come up with a few interesting tricks of their own. Here are some of their suggestions:
- Fingerspelling while in the car.
Several people suggested the trick of fingerspelling while in the car (license plates, road signs, building names etc….). I like that idea but I just hope you are the passenger in the car at the time so that you aren’t having to fingerspell the license plate of the car you rear-end because you are too focused on spelling the LONG name on the building you are passing!
If you are on a longer road trip, you could also play the "alphabet game" where you look for words (on signs, billboards, buildings, cars, etc.) that start with each letter of the alphabet, starting with A. You compete with others in the car by trying to be the first to get to Z. Each word you see, you would point at it and then fingerspell it. An alternate version would be to look for any item, not just words. Of course, again, this game is not recommended for the driver.
- Focus on the whole word and not letter by letter.
Another suggestion from our Facebook friends was to focus on the whole word and not letter by letter. This allows you to have a better flow as well. It is also helpful to say the sounds of the letters, NOT the letter itself as you are spelling the word phonetically. (This works well with both expressive and receptive fingerspelling.)
- Don’t get fixated on each letter.
Don’t get fixated on each letter, rather focus on the entire word and the flow of the hand changing as you create the word in the air. This will also help in not allowing you to “throw your letters”, which is another common problem for new finger spellers.
"Throwing your letters" - This is something that many new signers do and it is a bouncing movement either up and down or forward that is disruptive and bothers with the reading of the fingerspelling. The elbow should stay still and just have the fingers moving and the wrist when appropriate.
We also need to remember the general rules for fingerspelling. It isn’t right to makeup signs for words you don’t know because they are too long to fingerspell. You may laugh, but I see it happen all the time! Some people have even used the excuse that they work with young children so they can’t fingerspell. That is NOT true. When young children are fingerspelled to for small words that normally can be fingerspelled, they focus on the shape of the word. They will copy the shape to the best of their ability and then later they will make the connection to the alphabet. I have seen little children who are too young to know better, spelling words like BUS and BUG and are not even aware that they are spelling things.
I invite everyone to join us on our Facebook page where we have regular discussions and questions going back and forth about the hot topics in sign language and Deaf Education. It is just another great resource offered to you by Signing Savvy!
One thing that many new signers struggle with is how to show tense (past, present and future) while signing. In ASL, you don't sign words like went or going or suffixes like "ing", "ed" or "s".
By including the sign NOW at the beginning of a sentence, you can clarify the sentence is in the present tense.
English Version: I am going to the store.
ASL Version: NOW + STORE + I + GO.
By including the sign PAST or BEFORE (the open hand waves back over the shoulder in a single motion) at the beginning of a sentence, you can change the meaning of the sentence from present to past.
English Version: I went to the store.
ASL Version: BEFORE + STORE + I + GO
Alternatively, you can make the sentence show past tense by adding the sign FINISH to the end OR the beginning of the sentences.
English Version: I went to the store.
ASL Version 1: STORE + I + GO + FINISH
ASL Version 2: FINISH + STORE + I + GO
You can make the sentence show future tense by adding the sign NEXT to the beginning of the sentences.
English Version: I will go to the store.
ASL Version: NEXT + STORE + I + GO
To summarize, in ASL we use the following signs to clarify the tense:
The time of the day that the signer is signing the phrase can effect how the sentence is interpreted, even though the words/signs are exactly the same.
For example, if the sentence below was signed in the morning, the interpretation would be as shown: "Tonight, I will eat dinner."
English Version: Tonight, I will eat dinner.
ASL Version: NOW + EVENING + I + EAT + DINNER
But if the same sentence was signed late in the evening, its' interpretation would be: "Tonight, I ate dinner".
English Version: Tonight, I ate dinner.
ASL Version: NOW + EVENING + I + EAT + DINNER
As you can see, communicating tense can be a tricky thing sometimes. My recommendation is to pay attention to how others sign tenses and consciously practice it as you sign.