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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 - SOUL

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

Interpreter 4-1-1: Your Reputation

Interpreter 4-1-1: Your Reputation

By Lindsey Williams and Brenda Cartwright  |  Wednesday, October 9, 2019

This article is part of our "Interpreter 4-1-1" series, which includes advice and tips for interpreters.

As a professional interpreter, it is wise to consider your reputation in the community in which you work. Your reputation is formed on a number of important factors.

Your Reputation Check List

Professional interpreters rely on their ability to move through their community with relative ease. The successful professional interpreter can be contrasted to another kind who insists on friendships with clients, who force their way into Deaf spaces, who inflict themselves on the community in pursuit of a higher level of "street cred." You should strive to maintain a professional, ethical, cooperative, "friendly but not familiar" image. The ethically engaged, cooperative interpreter will go through a checklist before every assignment, and some examples are below:

Am I prepared?

Be preparedEthical interpreters will ask questions when accepting an assignment about the location and topic, but also questions about the clients. The information gathered can help direct self-study at home prior to the assignment. Online research is very helpful to become more familiar with the organization of a business entity, the names of teachers and professionals at a school, or the name of the doctor and nurses in a medical office. An hour of study before an assignment can make the difference between an acceptable interpretation, and an exceptional one.

Am I dressed appropriately?

Dress professionalA general rule of thumb that many interpreters follow is to dress “one level up” from what the setting requires. Interpreting is a young profession, and as practitioners we strive to maintain a level of recognizability when we’re on-site. The interpreter should be identifiable with appropriate attire and hygiene. Skin-contrasting clothing, nails that are short and clean, hair pulled back from the face to allow for ease of communication. It’s easier to arrive at an assignment and remove a dress jacket than not have it and wish you’d brought one.

Am I ready to represent the client and profession to the best of my ability?

Serve as a role modelBecause the field of interpreting is young, many of our clients are not familiar with interpreting. The process, the gravity, and the complexity of the job is still the subject of countless research studies and training programs. As members of this profession, it is the responsibility of each interpreter to pave the way for the next interpreter who will work in that space, and to leave the assignment having provided a high quality of work and a positive experience for the clients. The road to no longer needing to explain the job to every person with whom we come in contact is a long one, and each interpreter plays a part in that journey.

Am I engaged and give back to the community?

Be involved and give backLastly, volunteer opportunities are readily available for those wishing to make more connections. Network by donating some hours of work at a non-profit organization. Get to know more colleagues and clients, give back to the community, and practice interpersonal skills. Many newer interpreters and interpreting students report anxiety when meeting new people. Introducing yourself to a stranger, making conversation, and learning to work with a multitude of different personalities will create a foundation of soft skills which will benefit any interpreter’s career and personal life.

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About the Authors

Lindsey WilliamsLindsey Williams is an interpreter and mentor in Lansing, Michigan. She is currently studying for a masters degree in Interpreting Studies and Communication Equity at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.

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 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

Living Loud: Andrew Foster – Pioneer Missionary, Educator, Mentor, and Advocate for the Deaf

By Brenda Cartwright  |  Thursday, August 22, 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 "Living Loud" series, which highlights famous people who are deaf or hard of hearing and their impact in the world.

Andrew Foster was the first African-American to earn a Bachelor of Arts from Gallaudet University. He ultimately set up 32 schools for the deaf in Africa. Because of this, he is known as the “Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet” of Africa and the “Father of Deaf Education in Africa.”

Andrew Foster
Portrait of Andrew Foster. (Photo Credit: Gallaudet University. Andrew Foster: Visionary Leader - May 2014.)

Foster was born on June 27, 1925 in Ensley, Alabama. His father Wiley was a coal miner and World War I veteran and his mother Veline was a homemaker. He was the oldest of their four children. When he was 11 years old, both he and his brother contracted spinal meningitis and became deaf. Growing up he didn’t have access to much education because he was deaf and black. He went to the Alabama School for the Colored Deaf, as schools were segregated in Alabama during this time and education for African Americans was only offered through sixth grade. The only way for Foster to continue his schooling past sixth grade was for him to move to Flint, Michigan with his aunt. He attended the Michigan School for the Deaf, which went to eighth grade. Then Foster took correspondence courses and finally received his high school diploma in 1951 at age 26. It was during his time in Michigan that he went to Bethany Pembroke Church every week and learned about missionary work.

He applied and had been rejected several times to Gallaudet College due to his race, but he finally became the first African American accepted to Gallaudet in 1951. He was given a full scholarship and in 1954 was the first African American to graduate from Gallaudet. The Gallaudet president at that time, Leonard Elstad, encouraged Foster to pursue his dream of becoming a missionary.

In addition to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Gallaudet, he obtained two master’s degrees. In 1955 he was the first African American to earn a master’s degree from Michigan State Normal College, which is now called Eastern Michigan University. His master’s degree was in Education and he earned a second master’s degree in Christian Mission from Seattle Pacific College in 1956… that’s 3 degrees in six years!

“ In that day, the deaf will hear the words of the book.
     -
Isiah 29:18, 
       Andrew Foster's
      Favorite Bible Verse

He established the Christina Mission for Deaf Americans, now known as the Christian Mission for the Deaf, in 1956 in Michigan. Foster went on to do speaking tours in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Western Europe, and 25 African nations. His favorite Bible verse was Isiah 29:18 “In that day, the deaf will hear the words of the book.” He knew in order to understand the Bible and become saved, the deaf first needed to be able to read. His passion was to educate the deaf to be literate – to read, write, and sign. He used the Total Communication method of using sign language, fingerspelling, speech, speech reading, writing, and more. He was especially an advocate of using visual language and visual learning for teaching deaf children.

In 1957 Foster arrived in Africa. During that time, not only were there no churches for the deaf, there were only 12 schools for the Deaf on the entire continent. School administrators and hearing missionaries told Foster deaf children didn’t exist in Africa. Perhaps they even believed these false narratives because the culture was so oppressive of deaf people that parents would keep them hidden at home. In remote villages, some deaf children were thought to be cursed by demons and were abandoned to be eaten by wild animals. Throughout his life he would preach, “Tomorrow may be too late!” He worked steadfast to convince local education officials there were many deaf children and that they had a moral obligation to provide them with opportunities.

Andrew Foster teaching
Foster teaching a geography class in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1960.
(Photo Credit: Gallaudet University. Andrew Foster: Visionary Leader - May 2014.)

The first Deaf school he set up was in Osu, which is a suburb of Accra, Ghana; it was held in a borrowed classroom of a Presbyterian church. He later received a donation of a building and land that he used to set up a permanent residential school in Mampong-Akwapim. Shortly after opening the school, it was filled to capacity. The school housed approximately 80 children, as well as some adults. He was the director of the school until 1965.

Andrew and Verta Foster
Andrew and Berta Foster dressed in traditional Nigerian wedding fashion. (Photo Credit: Gallaudet University. Andrew Foster: Visionary Leader - May 2014.)

Foster married a deaf German woman, Berta, in 1961 in Nigeria, they had met at the Third World Congress of the Deaf in 1959. They had four sons and a daughter together. With Berta’s help, Foster established another 29 schools.

Foster trained teachers, taught students, advised government officials about the need for more schools for the deaf, and educated the public about the needs of Deaf Africans. Due to Foster’s efforts Gallaudet welcomed their first generation of students from Foster schools in Africa.

In 1970 Foster earned an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet in Humane Letters. He received the Man of the Year award in 1962 from Alpha Sigma Pi and the Edward Miner Gallaudet Award from Gallaudet College Alumni Association in 1975. He also received alumni awards from his other alma maters: the Alumni Honor Award from Eastern Michigan University in 1980 and the Medallion Award from Seattle Pacific University in 1982.

Tragically, Foster passed away in a small plane crash traveling to Rwanda in December of 1987. The plane suffered from mechanical problems and none of the 13 passengers survived. They are all buried near the crash site near Gisny, Rwanda.

Andrew Foster with students
Foster with students and teachers at his mission school in Goma, Congo, in 1985. (Photo Credit: Gallaudet University. Andrew Foster: Visionary Leader - May 2014.)

The Christian Mission for the Deaf continues to carry on Foster’s dream of establishing more schools for deaf people in Africa. The National Black Deaf Advocates donated a bust of Foster, sculpted by Virginia Cox, to Gallaudet and established the Andrew Foster Endowment Fund. Gallaudet also established the Dr. Andrew Foster Merit Based Scholarship for students. Gallaudet University renamed and dedicated their auditorium the Andrew Foster Auditorium in October 2004 to recognize his role as “Father of Deaf Education in Africa.”

Dr. Foster started more deaf schools than anyone in the history of deaf education. The hundreds of deaf children who have learned to read, write and communicate carry on his legacy.

Resources

  1. Camp, Ted (2011, September 22). A Tribute to Andrew Foster. Silent Word Ministries. Retrieved from: https://www.silentwordministries.org/2011/09/22/the-written-word-a-tribute-to-andrew-foster/

  2. Eastern Michigan University: Alumni Achievement Past Recipients. Retrieved from: https://www.emich.edu/alumni/engage/events/achievement_past-recipients.php

  3. Fikes, R. (2018, December 25). Andrew Jackson Foster, II (1925-1987). Retrieved from https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/foster-andrew-jackson-ii-1925-1987/

  4. Foster, Dr. Andrew (n.d.). Roots Out of a Dry Ground. Christian Mission for the Deaf. Retrieved from: http://www.cmdeaf.org/resources/articles-by-dr-foster/roots-out-of-a-dry-ground

  5. Gallaudet University. (2014, May). Visionary Leader: Andrew Foster. Retrieved from: https://www.gallaudet.edu/about/history-and-traditions/andrew-foster

  6. Nicholas, Darrick F. Andrew Foster, “the deaf will hear the words of the book.” African 
    American Registry. Retrieved from: https://aaregistry.org/story/andrew-foster-the-deaf-will-hear-the-words-of-the-book

  7. Seattle Pacific University: The Medallion Award. The Seattle Pacific University Magazine. Retrieved from: https://spu.edu/depts/uc/response/spring2k3/medallion.html

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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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