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.

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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

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Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 11

Signs That Are Close... But Not the Same - Set 11

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, August 1, 2019

By Brenda Cartwright

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 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. Several vs. Few

SEVERAL and FEW both start with the S handshape on the non-dominant side of the body and then move across to the dominant side of the body ending in a W handshape when signing FEW and a 4 handshape when signing SEVERAL. You can remember FEW ends with the W handshape because the word FEW ends with a W. FEW ends in the W handshape, which has 3 fingers out, while SEVERAL ends in the 4 handshape, which has four fingers out because SEVERAL is more than a FEW.

These signs originated from the French sign for PLUSIEURS (several). The extension of the fingers in the sign originally followed the French counting system and symbolized counting several items.1

Several
Few

2. Use vs. Get Used To

There are many times when an English word may have multiple meanings and when there are multiple meanings, often there are multiple signs to represent each meaning. A common example of this is with the English word “fly” - fly can have multiple meanings and there are different ways to sign each meaning. Signing Savvy uses what we call our “as in” to differentiate between meanings. There are three versions of fly in the Signing Savvy dictionary and they all use different signs: FLY (as in "fly in an airplane”), FLY (as in "the insect”), and FLY (as in "a bird flying”)USE is an another example where it’s important to think about the meaning because to USE something is not the same as to GET USED TO something.

USE (as in "to use or utilize") is signed with the U handshape moving in a clockwise motion on the back of the non-dominant hand. You can remember a U handshape is used because USE starts with the letter U. This sign is also used to say WEAR in English. Some people find it confusing that the same sign is used for USE and WEAR, but the origin of this sign from the French sign for HABITUDE (habit) helps explain the dual usage. The French words habitude (habit), usage (use), utile (useful), and utilizer (use) have related meanings, which is why the sign was used to mean USE. "The alternative meaning of ‘wear’ likely stems from the false association of the English word habit with the French word habit (clothes)."1

USE (as in "to get used to") is signed the same as CUSTOM or TRADITION - the hands move down to the waist as the top, dominant hand closes from an open 5-handshape to a S-handshape. The downward movement while signing GET USED TO shows consistency. 

USE (as in "to use up”), USED TO (as in "used to or in the past”), and USED (as in "second hand") also have different meanings, and use different signs, from the examples of USE (as in "to use or utilize") and USE (as in "to get used to") shared in this comparison. USED TO (as in "used to or in the past”) is also shown in the next comparison below.

Use
Get Used To

3. Long Ago vs. Used To

The signs for LONG AGO and USED TO (as in "used to or in the past”) are an example that shows emphasis matters. LONG AGO has a bigger movement to show it was farther in the past than when you are talking about something you USED TO do.

Long Ago
Used To

4. Introduce vs. Invite

These signs both use open B handshapes, however, INTRODUCE uses two hands and INVITE uses one. 

When signing INTRODUCE, think of the two hands as representing bringing two people together and they are introduced. 

The sign for INVITE (as in "to invite someone") also can be used to mean EMPLOY, HIRE, INVITATION, GREET, and WELCOME. Think of the one-handed motion as a welcoming gesture when making an offer, rather it is of greeting or employment. This sign is also a directional sign. The hand would move away from the body if you were asking to be invited. See the sign INVITE (as in, "to invite me”).

Introduce
Invite

5. Problem vs. Difficult

PROBLEM and DIFFICULT are similar because they both use two hands in bent V handshapes. This "double hooked handshape is used in a family of signs to convey notions of hardness, both physical and mental."1 In addition to PROBLEM and DIFFICULT, the signs for HARD (as in, "difficult”), and BONES (as in, "bones in the body”) use this handshape. 

The sign for DIFFICULT, with the up and down hand movement, is almost identical to the French sign for PIERRE (stone), which originated from the old French sign for DUR (hard).1 When signing DIFFICULT, think of the symbolism of the handshape and how this sign evolved from the meaning of something being hard.

When signing PROBLEM, think of the two hands colliding as they are encountering a problem or difficulty. You can also think about trying to fit puzzle pieces together to solve a problem. This sign may have evolved from the French sign for PROBLÈME (problem, difficulty) and the related sign COMPLICATION (complication) where the hands fold and refold together. "The metaphor of ‘folding something to complicate it’ motivates the French word compliqué (complicated), which comes from the Latin complicare (fold)."1

Problem
Difficult

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.

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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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 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 Children’s Books: A Chocolate Moose for Dinner

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, July 9, 2019

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

A Chocolate Moose for Dinner is an illustrated fantasy exploration book of the English language and how fun, yet confusing, it can be for a child (or foreign speaker) to navigate through as they learn the language.

This book, although enjoyed by younger children because of the beautiful illustrations, is better tailored for older elementary to even high school deaf students so they can really understand the full content of the book, such as homonyms and homophones in the English language. There are a variety of levels covered, so there is definitely something for everyone!

The first page begins with the title of the book, and a large chocolate moose sitting across from a young child at the dinner table. The book continues on with some words that sound the same, but are spelled differently, yet to a young child they wouldn’t know that, and have very different meanings.

The interesting thing in sign language, is these words would most likely be signed conceptually correct, so if the book is being shared where the person reading is signing the words, before showing the pictures, the students might not get the full enjoyment out of the book. My suggestion would be to show the children the pictures first, and then looking at the words (assuming the students can read), trying to figure out the puns and discuss how the actual situation being demonstrated in the picture would be both signed in ASL AND written in English. For example, you can show the page where the little girl talks about Mommy saying she had a “chocolate moose for dinner last night” and sign the little girl said MOOSE, but then ask the kids what you think the Mom really meant. The answer is actually the word MOUSSE and you can also ask the kids what mousse is (a dessert you eat, like a pudding).

My students really enjoyed this book and had a great time coming up with their own “Language Play” words and even illustrated them into their own classroom book to share with other classrooms. The book is great to cover over a period of time or revisit again and again until all the homonyms and homophones can be covered and explored by the students.

Here is a fun idea from Pinterest where they created a chocolate mousse to go along with the book:


Get the Pre-Built Word List for this Book!

I hope through the A Chocolate Moose for Dinner pre-built word list you will feel confident to share this story with your children.

Word List for A Chocolate Moose for Dinner

View word list of ASL signs for the book A Chocolate Moose for Dinner

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Signing Children’s Books: Corduroy

Learning Tips   |  Friday, May 17, 2019

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

Signing Children's Books: Corduroy

Corduroy by Don Freeman is a beloved classic. It is about a cute, little bear in a department store that so wants to find his forever home with a child. A little girl finds him and wants to bring him home. However, the girl's mother says Corduroy doesn't look new because he is missing a button. The story’s adventures unfold from there.

Corduroy was named one of the “Top 100 Picture Books” of all time by the School Library Journal and also “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children” by the National Education Association. There are several different lessons that can be covered through the telling of this story. You will find many different activities on teaching sites and sites like Pinterest that will give you plenty of follow-up things to do with this book. 

If you like the book, the adventures of Corduroy continue in several other Corduroy books!

Get the Pre-Built Word List for this Book!

I hope through the Corduroy word list you will feel confident to share this story with your children. You can also bring up signs on the Signing Savvy Member App using the pre-built word list as you go through the book.

Word List for Corduroy

View word list of ASL signs for the book Corduroy

Related Books:

  

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Signing Children’s Books: Little Brown

Learning Tips   |  Friday, May 10, 2019

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

Signing Children's Books: Little Brown

Little Brown by Marla Frazee is a delightful little story about dogs and their goofy behavior. Most children love dogs. They love to play with them and watch them as they play with other dogs. This is a book all about dogs and the funny ways they interact together.

Little Brown is one cranky canine because no one ever plays with him at the animal shelter. Or maybe no one ever plays with him because he is cranky. Either way, Little Brown decides today is the day to take action, so he takes all of the toys and sticks and blankets from all of the dogs at the shelter and won’t give them back. But what will happen next?

Extension Actvities

You can find more ideas for actvities related to dogs on Pinterest. Here are some activities from Pinterest to check out for inspiration:

  


Get the Pre-Built Word List for this Book!

I hope through the Little Brown word list you will feel confident to share this story with your children. You can also bring up signs on the Signing Savvy Member App using the pre-built word list as you go through the book.

 

Word List for Little Brown

View word list of ASL signs for the book Little Brown

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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Signing Children’s Books: Maisy’s Colors

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, April 30, 2019

By John Miller

This article is part of our “Signing Children’s Books” series, which highlights children’s books and pairs them with pre-built Signing Savvy word lists to help you get started with learning and signing the vocabulary in the book. Reading and literacy is so important. By sharing these pre-built word lists, we hope to cut down on prep time for families that are just beginning to learn ASL and hope you can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.

Signing Children's Books: Maisy's Colors

Maisy’s Colors by Lucy Cousins is chunky book that is simple and filled with colors for little ones just beginning to learn about the world. It combines colorful pictures with simple illustrations that capture the young reader's eye. As very young children's eye sight develops, they learn to enjoy color more and more. This book will be a book that appeals to children when they are very young, yet stay with them as they grow and begin to read.

Learning Colors in ASL

We have two handouts on signing color in ASL that you can also use as a reference when reading this book. The first one is a reference for signing all of the colors in ASL and the second color handout is meant to inspire you to think about the colors in the food rainbow.

Colors in American Sign Language (ASL)  Colors of the Food Rainbow in American Sign Language (ASL)

Extension Actvities

Kids love to learn through food, so talking about the colors of different foods and tasting them is a great activity for little ones. Some of my favorite food rainbow recipes are ones that highlight the beautiful, natural colors of food (instead of using food coloring). I love making popsicles filled with fruit and wrote an article with the recipe and related signs. Check out the article Cooking Up Language with Signs: Frozen Fruit Popsicles Recipe. You can make popsicles that are any color of the rainbow, just by selecting fruit to put in them that is the color you want… strawberries (red), melon (orange or green), pineapple (yellow), kiwis (green), blueberries (blue), grapes (purple or green)… the possibilities are endless AND tasty! Kids love the opportunity to make choices, like what fruits to add to popsicles, and they love tasting the results even more.

Cooking Up Language With Signs Recipe: Frozen Fruit Popsicles

You can find more ideas for actvities related to colors or the food rainbow on Pinterest. Here are some recipes from Pinterest to check out for inspiration:

 


Get the Pre-Built Word List for this Book!

I hope through the Maisy’s Colors word list you will feel confident to share this story with your children. You can also bring up signs on the Signing Savvy Member App using the pre-built word list as you go through the book.

 

Word List for Maisy’s Colors

View word list of ASL signs for the book Maisy's Colors

Related Books:

  

Signing Savvy is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking signingsavvy.com to Amazon properties. That means Signing Savvy may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, your cost will be exactly the same regardless, but Signing Savvy will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps us continue to improve Signing Savvy!

 

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