Read The American Sign Language Phrase Book Online

Authors: Lou Fant,Barbara Bernstein Fant,Betty Miller

The American Sign Language Phrase Book (5 page)

BOOK: The American Sign Language Phrase Book
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Chapters 3
cover the basic topics that occur in the ordinary course of our lives. (The chapter on health also includes some expressions that are needed in emergency situations.) These 16 chapters are self-contained and do not need to be employed in any particular order. You may begin wherever you like, choosing whichever subject you wish, and will be able to proceed without having read the previous chapters. If you are seeking quick access to the rudiments of the language for your first conversations with a deaf person, though, the chapters entitled "Greetings, Salutations, and Everyday Expressions," "Signing and Deafness," and "Getting Acquainted" might be the best ones to begin with.

This book can be used not only as an instant reference manual but also as a study guide should you wish to become fluent in ASL. If you do wish to assimilate the phrases, the most efficient way to use this book is to study one chapter thoroughly, practicing the sentences until you can do them without looking at the pictures. The next step is to use them immediately in conversation. This will help fix them in your memory. To become fluent in ASL, it is important to study and converse in a regular, consistent manner. Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for everyone errs while learning a new language. Deaf people do not expect perfection and usually will cheerfully help you correct your errors.

Sign Labels

To enable us to talk about the signs of ASL each sign has been given a name, or label. We use English words for these labels. In this book the labels appear beneath the picture of the sign. People often confuse the meaning of a sign with its label, but a sign may have several meanings and the label is only one of its meanings. English labels for signs merely provide us with a convenient way of designating which sign we want to talk about or which sign to use.

Let's look at an example. The word
has numerous meanings in English. Some of them are:

My nose
There's a
on the stock market.
for office.
He scored a
Your stocking has a
in it.

The sign labeled RUN (
Figure 1
) could be used only in the first example above, for that is the only meaning of that sign. Each of the other examples requires a different sign.

Figure 1:

A sign label does not tell you how a sign may be used to express meanings quite different from the label. Take for example the sign FINISH (
Figures 2

Figure 2:

Figure 3:

The sign phrase EAT FINISH may mean: (1) ate, eaten; (2) already ate, already eaten; (3) did eat; or (4) done eating (
Figures 4

Figure 4:

Figure 5:

In this signed sentence, WORK FINISH GO TO HOME (
Figures 6

), the FINISH sign indicates that when one act is over, another follows. This sentence would translate as "After work I am going
home," "After work I went home," or "When work is done, I am going home."

Figure 6:

Figure 7:

Figure 8:

Figure 9:

One form of the FINISH sign by itself can mean "That's enough!" "Stop it!" or "I/She/He did already!" (
Figure 10

The FINISH sign offers an excellent example of the danger of confusing a sign label with the meaning of the sign. Obviously this sign means much more than merely "finish."

Figure 10:

When using the Dictionary/Index at the back of this book to find a sign you want to use, be sure you look for the sign that matches the meaning of the word you have in mind. Do not look just for the English word itself. For example, if you want the sign for "run" in the sense that someone is running for office, you will have to think of "competing," "contesting," or "racing" in order to locate the correct sign (COMPETE,
Figure 11

BOOK: The American Sign Language Phrase Book
7.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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