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 - PLAN

All Articles

Happy Holidays!

Site News   |  Thursday, December 23, 2010

By Jillian Winn

The beginning of 2011 will mark the end of our second year of being live on the Internet, and once again, we are very grateful for the support of all of our users. We particularly are thankful for our full members who allow us to continue to grow the site. And grow the site we will! We have several exciting things planned for Signing Savvy in 2011.

From all of us at Signing Savvy, we wish you joy and happiness during this holiday season and all the best in 2011!

 

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Sign language meets dance on DWTS finale

General Interest   |  Wednesday, November 24, 2010

By Jillian Winn

Sign language was an integral part of Christina Aguilera's dance performance last night in the season 11 series finale of Dancing With the Stars. Check out the performance below.

Don't you think the signing really enhances the emotional impact of the song and the performance?

 

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Signing is like being a thesaurus

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, November 16, 2010

By John Miller

I am often asked "I can't find the sign for....." And it will be words like FINALIZATION or SUMMARIZATION. My answer is often...."It is there." You may not get a result when you search for FINALIZATION, but that does not mean you are out of luck.

Unlike the spelling in the English language where one spelling is equal to one word, sign language is different. There are many signs that can mean more than one word. We have tried to connect any of the signs on our site with the English words they can represent, but this is not always possible or practical (as there are hundreds of thousands of potential word variations).

If you are having trouble finding the way to sign a certain word, think about what the true basic meaning of the word is, then, like using a thesaurus, look up words that could be interchanged with the word you are looking for without drastically changing the meaning.

Examples

An example: FINALIZATION - Think of the meaning you are looking for....How are you using the word? Is it that you want to FINISH? Or would the word LAST work better for you? Be sure to use the word that will be the most conceptually correct in the context that you are using the word.

A second example: SUMMARIZATION - We do have the word SUMMARIZE so maybe that will work for you. If not that sign, what about to SHORTEN, or to make SMALLER. I have seen both of those signs also used for SUMMARIZATION.

Conclusion

The biggest misconception is that there is one sign for one word and when translating from English to ASL, you must do a direct and exact translation. This is not the case. I think it is very interesting to watch five different interpreters signing the same exact story. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be variations. That is fine as long as the general concepts of the story are all there and clear to the client.

In summary, my advice when signing (and using the Signing Savvy site) is to think like a thesaurus and focus on the core concept or meaning of what is being signed and not get hung up on the exact English words you are translating.

 

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The Importance of Facial Expressions

Learning Tips   |  Sunday, October 3, 2010

By John Miller

Facial expression plays a very important part in the meaning of a sign. The same exact hand-shape and movement can totally change meaning because of the facial expression that is used to accompany it.

One example of this is the word MUCH. The degree of how much can totally be determined by the facial expression alone while the sign stays the same.

Other examples would be the words INTERESTING and FUNNY. Both of these words can be changed to different varying degrees all by the changes in facial expression.

One question that some users have asked then is why we don't show a great deal of facial expression in most of the videos on the site. This is a legitimate question. With the video on the site, we have focused more on the formulation of the sign (the hand-shape and movement). We understand that in your day-to-day signing, there would be more facial expression used depending on the emphasis in the context of the sentence.

Not only the hands, but also the face, the eyes, and the whole body work together to communicate in sign language. Because of this, we want to inform people who are using sign language that the wearing of sun glasses, excessive jewelry or facial hair that is long (like handlebar mustaches and long beards), can be distracting to the person you are signing with. If you ever watch an interpreter while working, they will be wearing solid dark colored clothing (as opposed to patterns) with very little jewelry and no sunglasses! This all helps in communicating clearly to the Deaf client through both signs and facial expressions.

 

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The difference between ASL and English signs

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, September 7, 2010

By John Miller

One question many new signers ask me is: "What is the difference between ASL signs and English signs?" and "What does it mean to have an initialized sign?" These are two really good questions. It is important to understand the difference, particularly when signing to a member of the Deaf community.

Some background information

You may have noticed that sometimes people are referred as deaf (little d) and other times as Deaf (big D). This is done for a specific purpose. People that are deaf have partial or complete hearing loss. Deaf (big D) people are not just deaf by way of auditory definition, but culturally as well. They are usually born deaf. They don't normally use their voice when they sign. Many of them may also choose not to use hearing aides, cochlear implants or any other sound enhancing devices, even if they may get hearing benefit from them. They instead choose to use sign language as their primary mode of communication. Through sign they utilize interpreters in order to communicate with the hearing world.

Most deaf people; whether big D or little d, do NOT like to be referred to as Hearing Impaired. Instead they want to be identified as Deaf or Hard of Hearing, depending on their degree of hearing loss.

I give you this brief history just to give you some background before answering the ASL verses English question. This topic can become very involved and very political and we at Signing Savvy are not wanting to lose our focus of being a sign language resource for all, so we choose normally not to get too involved in these kinds of debates.

ASL signs vs. English signs

ASL (American Sign Language) is a complete, unique language developed by deaf people, for deaf people and is used in its purest form by people who are Deaf. Being its own language, it not only has its own vocabulary, but also its own grammar that differs from English.

Signed Exact English is a system to communicate in English through signs and fingerspelling. Signed Exact English, in most cases, uses English grammar (that is, you are signing English). The vocabulary is a combination of ASL signs, modified ASL signs, or unique English signs.

The reason English signs often vary from ASL is to add clarity to the sign so that the exact English word meant for the conversation is understood. One example would be the sign for CAR. In ASL, the sign for CAR is two A hands gesturing like they are holding onto and moving a steering wheel. In ASL, this sign is used for any automobile you control with a steering wheel, including a car, truck, bus, van, etc. The English sign for CAR is two C hands, one on top of the other, moving away from each other. If you wanted to specify what type of car, the hand shape is modified to include the initial of the type of vehicle (c for car, v for van, b for bus, j for jeep, etc.).

This is where the term "initialized sign" comes from. You clarify the meaning by initializing the sign with first letter of the intended English word. Therefore, using the English version allows one to specify exactly what is communicated in English. In ASL, you would just use the ASL sign for car and if it was important to clarify the type of vehicle, you would follow the sign with a fingerspelling of the vehicle type (JEEP, for example). This is just one example. There are many other examples.

Just as many ASL signs are used in Signed Exact English, members of the big D Deaf camp have accepted some English signs. However, some are still not accepted, and if you use them in your everyday signing, could be frowned upon by the Deaf. It is best to watch and ask if you are in doubt.

What type of signs does Signing Savvy include?

Since Signing Savvy is first and foremost a dictionary, we have decided to include the most common variations (both ASL and English) on the site so that you see that they do exist. Since ASL is the preferred language of the Deaf community, the ASL sign is almost always listed as the first version unless the word does not have an ASL sign for it. To determine if the sign is ASL or English, look below the video to see the sign type (available on most signs). If you are a registered guest or full member, the sign description tells you if it is an initialized sign. Remember that most of the time if the sign is an initialized sign, then it falls under that English category.

 

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