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 - MOUNTAIN

All Articles

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 8

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 8

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, November 27, 2018

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - 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 will be contributing 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. Bathroom vs. Tuesday

These signs look similar because they both use one hand in the T handshape, however, both the palm orientation and movement is different. BATHROOM has the palm facing away from the body and has a shaking motion from side-to-side, while TUESDAY has the palm facing the body and uses a circular motion.

You can remember the difference in motion by thinking about how other days of the week are signed. TUESDAY follows the same circular movement pattern, with the palm towards the body, as the signs for MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY, and SATURDAY.

Bathroom
Tuesday

2. Wonderful vs. Sunday

It’s no wonder WONDERFUL and SUNDAY are often confused - they both use two hands, in the 5 handshape, with the palm facing forward, and start in the same location with your hands held up on either side of your head.

However, you will notice that the motion made when signing these two signs is different. When signing WONDERFUL, your hands make small forward movements, while your hands when signing SUNDAY move from being by your head and then move down.

To remember the difference between these signs, think of giving someone two high fives to congratulate them on how WONDERFUL or great something is when signing WONDERFUL.

If you know how to sign all of the days of the week, you may have always wondered why SUNDAY is signed differently from all of the other days (the signs for the other days of the week incorporate the first letter of the word, or in the case of THURSDAY, the first two letters). Historians as far back as 1885, described the sign for SUNDAY originating from thinking of SUNDAY as a holy day. Some say the two raised, open hands represented the large, opened doors of a church. Others have described the sign as a gesture of praise to God.1 So to remember the sign for SUNDAY, you can think of how church is often on SUNDAY and the motion made is for giving praise or hallelujah.

Wonderful
Sunday

3. Husband vs. Wife

If you look closely, you will see that HUSBAND is a compound sign, made up of a combination of the signs for MAN and MARRY, and WIFE is a compound sign, made up of the signs for WOMAN and MARRY.

The signs end the same (like how MARRY ends), but start differently, with HUSBAND starting by the forehead (like MAN) and WIFE starting near the chin (like WOMAN).

You can remember which sign is which, if you understand the pattern these signs follow. There are several signs that follow a pattern based on gender. This gender-based pattern in signs was started back when women regularly wore bonnets and men wore tall hats (remember these signs have been around a long time!). The female signs are signed near the chin because it used to symbolize the place where girls would tie the drawstrings for their bonnets. The male signs are signed near the forehead because it used to symbolize where men wore hats and where the brim of their tall hat was.1 HUSBAND (like MAN) and WIFE (like WOMAN) follow this gender pattern, so HUSBAND starts by the forehead and WIFE starts by the chin. Some other signs that also follow this pattern are GIRL / BOY, DAUGHTER / SON, MOM / DAD, GRANDMA / GRANDPA, AUNT / UNCLE, NIECE / NEPHEW, and FEMALE COUSIN / MALE COUSIN.

Husband
Wife

4. Marriage vs. Hamburger

MARRIAGE and HAMBURGER both use two flat C handshapes in similar locations and with similar palm orientations, however, the movement is different.

Looking at the start of the signs will signal, right away, which sign is being used. MARRIAGE starts with the hands apart, while HAMBURGER starts with the hands together (although, you could argue that HAMBURGER also starts apart before the hands can come together, which only adds to the confusion about these two signs, but the dominant hand starts higher up when signing MARRIAGE).

You can remember the difference between these signs by thinking of forming a HAMBURGER patty with your hands when signing HAMBURGER. The hands start apart and then join together to symbolize coming together in MARRIAGE.

Marriage
Hamburger

5. Mother vs. Vomit

Poor MOM, let’s not confuse her sign with VOMIT! Although these signs start in the same location, the look on the signer’s face alone, should give you a good clue to which sign they are signing… unless, of course, they are really disgusted with their MOM!

You can remember the difference between these signs because VOMIT has the dominant hand come away from the body much farther, to represent VOMIT coming out from the mouth, while the movement while signing MOM stays much closer to the chin. (Remember why MOM is signed by the chin? If not, read #3 about HUSBAND and WIFE again!)

Mother
Vomit

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 6 (page 72) 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.”

 

View/Add Comments (0 comments)

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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

Interpreter Q & A: Is it ok to eat at a work event once my assignment ends?

Interpreter Tips   |  Friday, November 16, 2018

By Brenda Cartwright

This article is by Brenda Cartwright. Brenda is a seasoned interpreter, a master teacher, and well known presenter. Brenda is the "Dear Abby" for the interpreting world - 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 will be contributing 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 Summer 2018 (Issue 35 Volume 3) 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 26) and more in the Spring 2018 Edition of VIEWS Magazine from RID.

Dear BC,

I was asked to interpret for an art department showcase. Food was served during the presentations. After it was over there was an announcement that there was tons of food left and for everyone to "eat up!" My client encouraged me to get some food. My interpreting duties were finished, but I still felt strange about it. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate?

Sincerely,
Hungry Observer

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

An Experienced Interpreter's Perspective:

As long as the assignment is truly over I think the interpreter can partake of the food.

An Experienced Deaf Consumer's Perspective:

I think the interpreter should politely decline offers of food. You are not a member of the organization hosting the event.

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

 

View/Add Comments (2 comments)

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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

Signing Savvy Member App Updated to Version 2.5

Signing Savvy Member App Updated to Version 2.5

Site News   |  Friday, November 2, 2018

By Jillian Winn

We just updated both the iOS and Android versions of the Signing Savvy Member App to version 2.5. The update primarily increases the app's performance, resolves some bugs, and adds support to the latest iOS and Android operating systems and devices. The update is recommended for all Signing Savvy members using the mobile app running iOS 9 or newer or Android v4.4 (KitKat) or newer.

If you have not used the Signing Savvy Member App, it is a great way to access Signing Savvy on your mobile devices in a highly streamlined fashion. It is a premium feature available only to Signing Savvy full members.

 

View/Add Comments (1 comments)

Self-Care is the New Normal

Self-Care is the New Normal

General Interest   |  Monday, October 15, 2018

By Lindsey Williams and Brenda Cartwright

"Self-care" is a popular topic in recent years, and the trend isn’t slowing down. One problem noticed by your authors, however, is that there seem to be competing definitions of this idea and it’s causing a breakdown in the discussion about the importance of self-care. Should self-care be understood as indulgence? Eating a piece of chocolate cake because it’s been a rough day and this will help you to feel better? Or should self-care be thought of as goal-setting? Training for a marathon because you’ve always wanted to try it and enjoy testing your limits?

What is Self Care? Indulgence? Goal-Setting?
What is self-care? Is self-care indulgence or goal-setting?

The contradiction is stark, and creating a life you don’t need to escape from takes hard work, sacrifice, and patience. In reality, maybe self-care is just letting yourself be "normal." Doing things like sitting down and paying your bills, enforcing a morning routine, cooking healthy meals, working out, putting some oil into your bath, turning off your phone, or having a game night with friends.

Being normal/self-care is a process that involves self-reflection. Despairing at the skinny total in your wallet and then going for a $80 pedicure to feel better is a temporary fix, but also worsening the problem. Training ourselves to resist the impatience of seeking an immediate fix is hard. None of life’s big challenges have easy solutions; learning a new skill, finding a compatible partner, career advancement, etc. Nobody asks to take the hard road but it is through those challenges and by building inner strength that we are able to move forward. We make sacrifices to become a better version of ourselves; the certified interpreter, the parent, the business owner. Moving toward those goals smartly, proactively, and relentlessly is how each of us achieves self-care.

Work on your skills and communication for a different tomorrow. Set new standards for yourself and actually believe in them. Skepticism in your own goals is not helping you get what you want. Your thought process is everything. Obsessing over temporary set-backs is exhausting and leaves little energy to actually become better. Taking action allows us to focus on movement and increases energy. Start by physically writing down what you want to accomplish; make lists. Learn what each item takes, and expect that it will require hard work and sacrifice to get there. Set specific, measurable goals. Writing a book doesn’t happen in one day. But you can write 20 pages. Training for a marathon doesn’t happen in a week. But you can increase the distance you’ve run. Have goals for the day, for the week, for the month, and write them down on paper. Put the paper someplace you’ll see it.

Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals
Set goals - daily, weekly, and monthly - and write them down.

Celebrate goals realized, and then get back to it. Self-care doesn’t require an audience, either, so don’t worry whether everyone is following along. Self-care is an investment of today’s time and energy so you can profit tomorrow.

 

View/Add Comments (0 comments)

About the Authors

Lindsey WilliamsLindsey Williams is an interpreter, interpreter educator, and Practicum Supervisor for Lansing Community College’s Sign Language Interpreter Program in Lansing, Michigan.

More about Lindsey  |  Articles by Lindsey

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 the last 30 years Brenda has been the Chair of the Sign Language Interpreter Program at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan.

More about BC  |  Articles by BC

Living Loud: Charles

Living Loud: Charles "CJ" Jones – Comedian, Actor, Producer, and Director

Deaf Culture   |  Tuesday, October 2, 2018

By Marta Belsky

This article is by Marta Belsky. Marta is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 years and enjoys sharing her native language with new users.

CJ Jones and Ansel Elgort in Baby Driver
CJ Jones and Ansel Elgort in "Baby Driver" (2017) (Photo Credit: Sony Pictures, Photo by Wilson Webb - © 2017 TriStar Pictures, Inc. and MRC II Distribution Company L.P., Retreived from IBDb)

Named Charles Paul Jones at birth, Jones, who prefers to go by CJ, claims that his life is all about "who I am, not what I am." He does not want his deafness to be his claim to fame. His journey in the world of comedy is fast becoming his legacy. You may recognize him from the 2017 summer hit "Baby Driver," which made CJ the first black, deaf actor in an international blockbuster. To both the deaf and hearing worlds, CJ Jones brings hope and compassion for our future.

The Flourishing Student

CJ is the son of Deaf parents and has 6 hearing siblings. His parents and all of his brothers and sisters used American Sign Language. At the early age of seven, CJ contracted spinal meningitis. This major illness left CJ with a profound hearing loss. To further his education, CJ transferred to Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD), moving away from his entire family. His deaf father, Clarence, fought the Missouri school system to get CJ a place in the all deaf school when they were told CJ’s residual hearing was too good to qualify for MSD. CJ said his dad, "showed a lot of love and support, encouraging us to have the best education." CJ excelled in the communication rich environment at MSD, which taught in his native American Sign Language. After graduating high school, CJ continued his education by enrolling at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) in Rochester, New York. He immediately joined and then later toured for two years with NTID’s National Theater for the Deaf, which started him on his way to popularity and becoming nationally known for his hilarious and heart-warming comedy routines.

The Traveling Comedian

CJ Jones One-Man Comedy Show
CJ Jones One-Man Comedy Show

CJ remembers while he was growing up, he was always a comedian, making everyone laugh and feel at ease no matter who and where they were in life. Now as an adult, traveling around the world, he says things are still the same. He likes making people smile. His good-natured ways and high-spirited personality has set him up for a profession in entertainment. People, both deaf and hearing, are drawn to his fast-paced humor and quick-witted performances, poking fun, and using his graciousness and passion for communicating through humor and American Sign Language.

The Restless Entertainer

CJ Jones in See What I’m Saying
CJ Jones in “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary" (2009) (Photo Credit: IMDb, See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary)

CJ has been in the business of entertaining for the past thirty-five years, spreading his message that being different does not mean being less worthwhile. He developed 3 one-man shows and is the only Deaf African American comedian that has traveled all over the world. He is also one of only four Deaf performers showcased in the 2009 documentary "See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary." He appeared in PBS’s "Through Deaf Eyes" and has had roles in several television shows, including Cold Case, A Different World, Frasier, and Sesame Street. He co-wrote and directed all six of the children’s fairytales in the "Once Upon A Sign" television series. Undoubtedly, these television roles were his best promotional roles. Movies are another claim to CJ Jones’ fame with roles in "Baby Driver," HULU’s "Castle Rock" and the upcoming 2020, Avatar Sequels.

“I think I have made an impact on the deaf community through my humor, experience, and share my success by overcoming obstacles and discrimination. I can prove that anything is possible. It has nothing to do with being deaf or black or any disability and color, it has to do with passion to do greater things in life!”
     - CJ Jones

The Inspirational Role Model

When looking at his life, CJ is himself amazed at all he has accomplished in his sixty-eight years. From childhood of being black and deaf, he has never had a problem expressing himself and turned that ability into a profession of outstanding success. He is adamant about American Sign Language being his connection to his profession and communicating to the world. He is proud of the fact he has performed in thousands of schools, theaters, and universities.

This quote from CJ says it all, "I think I have made an impact on the deaf community through my humor, experience, and share my success by overcoming obstacles and discrimination. I can prove that anything is possible. It has nothing to do with being deaf or black or any disability and color, it has to do with passion to do greater things in life!"

Resources

 

View/Add Comments (0 comments)

About the Author

Marta Belsky Marta Belsky is a third generation ASL user. She has been teaching ASL for 30 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

View More Blog Posts:

 

Gift Memberships



Savvy Tutoring and Savvy Chat



SOTD ASL gloss video