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 signs, build word lists and share them with others, create digital flash cards and quizzes, view asl sentences, get tutoring, ...and more

Sign of the Day - REMEMBRANCE

Top Thanksgiving Tip: Better Conversations Using Sign Language

Top Thanksgiving Tip: Better Conversations Using Sign Language

By Jillian Winn  |  Monday, November 25, 2019

In the past, we have shared holiday-themed signs around Thanksgiving (See our article: 10 signs to know for Thanksgiving), but we feel strongly that what’s more important than learning to sign a few signs like turkey and pie, is conversational signs.

If you check out the Sign of the Day each day, you may have noticed that today’s Sign of the Day (on Monday, November 25th) is CONVERSATION (as in "talk to someone in sign language”) because this week is recognized as “Better Conversation Week.” Better Conversation Week is always the week of Thanksgiving and it is the perfect time of year for us to all focus on having better conversations. 

Sometimes our deaf family and friends feel excluded when they come home for the holidays. If everyone isn’t signing, they may feel excluded and feel like they don’t have a place at the table. This is a topic we've talked about in the past in the article Being Inclusive This Holiday Season. In honor of Better Conversation Week, in honor of Thanksgiving, and, most of all, in honor of our deaf family and friends, let’s try to sign. Signing is hard and it can be intimidating to sign with a fluent signer when you are feeling insecure about your signing skills, but the number one thing you can do is simply just TRY to sign.

To encourage and support everyone to sign this week, we have unlocked all of our member full example sentences for this week only. This is a member feature, but will be unlocked and freely accessible to everyone this week. 

Sentences Tab on the Signing Savvy Website

Click on the “Sentences” tab on the Signing Savvy website to get started. We suggest looking at the section on “Conversational Sentences.” There are lots of great examples of how to sign full sentences. We hope that before you know it, you are feeling comfortable signing "How have you been?” and "It’s good to see you.” 

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Interpreter Q & A: If the Deaf client isn’t paying attention, should the interpreter keep signing?

By Brenda Cartwright  |  Thursday, November 21, 2019

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She contributes blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

This article is part of our "Dear BC, Interpreter Q & A” series, which answers questions on interpreting and Deaf culture from multiple perspectives.

This article was also published in the Winter 2019 (Issue 36 Volume 1) Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID. VIEWS is a digital publication distributed quarterly by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and dedicated to the interpreting profession. The magazine includes RID member spotlights, announcements from the RID board, and engaging stories about issues impacting the interpreting community. See this article (on page 22) and more in the Winter 2019 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

I interpret at a college and sometimes during the lectures, the Deaf student does not watch me. They may be reading something, texting, or sometimes sleeping. When this happens, I tend to shrink my signing space to conserve my energy, but I still keep interpreting the lecture. When the student looks up I bring my signing back to normal. However, when I asked other interpreters how they handle this situation, some said I must keep signing and some said I can stop. What is your opinion?

Sincerely,
Feeling Ignored 

The video features a full interpretation of what is discussed in this article.

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

Deaf students, like hearing students, have a right not to attend to the lecture without drawing attention to themselves. I would not stop signing because that would draw attention to you and therefore to the Deaf student, but I understand reducing your signing space. If the problem is ongoing, ask the Deaf student what they want you to do.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

It is your job to interpret the class. Reducing your sign space to conserve energy is fine. Sometimes you may think the Deaf student is not fully paying attention when in fact they are partially attending. If this is about saving energy, maybe you could switch with your partner more often.

What's your perspective? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda 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 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 12

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 12

By Brenda Cartwright  |  Monday, October 21, 2019

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the author of the Dear Reality column in the VIEWS publication from Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the book Encounters With Reality: 1001 Interpreter Scenarios. She contributes blog articles for Signing Savvy on interpreting, Deaf culture, and answering a series of "Dear BC" interpreter questions.

This article is part of our “Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same” series, which highlights signs that look similar, but have different meanings.

Hello! Brenda Cartwright (BC) here. Let's continue on the fun topic of: “Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same.”

The ASL signs shown below look similar, but are not the same. There are many ASL signs that when produced look similar, but in fact have a completely different meaning. Below you will find examples of such signs. Watch closely to see if you can see the difference. In addition, watch my eyebrows, look to see when I tilt my head or lean my body in a certain way, even what my mouth is doing. These nuances are called inflections and trust me, inflections matter. Enjoy!

1. Thrilled vs. Excited

THRILLED and EXCITED both use two hands in the 25 handshape with a similar placement with palms facing the body, in front of the torso. However, THRILLED has both hands move up the body in a single motion, while EXCITED has the two hands move upward in a circular motion.

Think of using one motion when signing THRILLED because your emotions bubble up and out from your stomach. When signing EXCITED, think of your heart beating rapidly with anticipation in a repeated motion because you are so EXCITED.

2. Print vs. Newspaper

When signing PRINT and NEWSPAPER, the dominant G handshape starts open and then closes completely on top of the non-dominant open B handshape. PRINT is a single movement, while NEWSPAPER repeats the movement twice. The sign PRINT symbolizes the old style method of hand-setting type. NEWSPAPER repeats the sign for PRINT twice.

3. Sold vs. Selling

When signing SOLD and SELLING, both hands in flat O handshapes move in an outward motion. SOLD has one movement, while SELLING has two movements.

The sign for SOLD is a very old sign, first recorded in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century.1 The sign originally symbolized holding up an item, like a piece of cloth, to show it off to the person you are selling to. It is also said to symbolize the old custom of merchants shaking handkerchiefs to attract customers.

The single, firm movement when signing SOLD signifies the completion of the sale, while the repeated movement of SELLING indicates the action of SELLING is still taking place.

4. Signature vs. Contract

The dominant U handshape is placed on the non-dominant open B handshape when signing both SIGNATURE and CONTRACT.

The dominant U handshape, which is also the handshape used when signing NAME, represents the name, and the non-dominant, palm up, open B handshape represents the paper. So the sign represents the name going onto the paper.

SIGNATURE uses one, single movement while CONTRACT is a double, repeated movement.

You can remember SIGNATURE uses one, single movement because you sign your name one time on a piece of paper to make your signature. 

You can remember CONTRACT has multiple movements because sometimes a CONTRACT requires you to add your signature in multiple places.

5. Government vs. Federal

The location and movement of the signs for GOVERNMENT and FEDERAL are the same, but the handshapes used to form the signs are different. GOVERNMENT uses a 1 handshape, while FEDERAL uses a F handshape. 

One way to remember the location and movement of GOVERNMENT is by the head is to remind yourself that governments are supposed to be people "thinking" about what is best for everyone. This sign was originally made with more of a circular motion and some historians have said the circular movement was meant to symbolize "people as a whole, and by touching the temple, indicated that they are of one mind."1 However, the sign was originally derived from the French sign for RÉPUBLIQUE (republic) and the true origin of the circular movement (which is less pronounced in the modern day sign) was from circular, tricolored badges worn on the hats of republicans during the French Revolution.

FEDERAL is signed the same as GOVERNMENT, except it uses a F handshape. You can remember it uses an F handshape because the word FEDERAL starts with the letter F. Although this is an initialized sign, it is an accepted ASL sign. Similarly, POLITICS, is also the same sign, but uses the P handshape, and is an accepted ASL sign. An exception to this pattern is the accepted ASL sign for GOVERNMENT uses the 1 handshape. You may see a G handshape used when signing GOVERNMENT, but that variation is considered Signed English.

How can I figure out the difference between signs on my own?

If you see two signs that look close, but not the same, but you’re not sure, you can use Signing Savvy features to help you figure out the difference. All of our signs have sign descriptions and memory aids that members can access. Reading the sign description and memory aids for the signs can help you figure out the small differences between them that your eyes don’t catch at first. We also recommend using the pause and slow motion feature to slow down the video, so you can take a closer look. These features are available to Signing Savvy members.

Take a look, it's in a book!

These examples are aligned with the Visual Discrimination section of Lesson 7 (page 85) from Lessons and Activities in American Sign Language by Brenda E. Cartwright and Suellen J. Bahleda. Check out the book for more ASL Activities and watch for more examples from this series: "Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same."

Resources

  1. Shaw, E. & Delaporte, Y. (2014). A Historical and Etymological Dictionary of American Sign Language. Washington: Gallaudet University Press.

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About the Author

Brenda CartwrightBrenda 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 35 years Brenda was the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

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