Directing Conversations

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Sentences discuss actions. There are actors that do actions. There are objects to which or with which the action is done.
English uses the word "that" to describe the scene around the actors. ASL often separates out the scene before describing the action.

ASLSJ uses an apostrophe and a direction letter to specify the part of the scene that gets attention. 'r has the speaker looking at the wide-hand side of the scene. 's looks to the base-hand side. 'f looks at the forehead height. 'd looks down. 'i looks in at the speaker's chest contemplatively. You can also combine direction letters. 'rd looks lower on wide-hand side than 'r.

After a punctuation mark like comma or period, the speaker would normally look back to the audience. If this is not clear enough, you can use the looking direction 'o.

English: He used the car that has red wheels.
ASL-Gloss: (l'base) The car; (l'base-down) it has red wheels. (l'wide) He (l'base) gets in the car and drives off.

ASL sets up a 3-dimensional scene like a puppet show. Actors and objects are identified by their location. The signer's body shifts "stepping into" the next actor. When finished, the signer's body returns to face the audience.

English: He is pleased with your work.
ASL-Gloss: Your work (l'base) he said: "Well done."
ASLSJ: Beo-o sndo-tdy 's lns-o lnni-zy: "Ces-zy qy."

Here we see the main object is YOUR WORK "beo-o sndo-tdy". The 's eye word places the HIM (lns-o) actor at stage-left. The "qy" head nod means the statement is true.


When the speaker is disgusted with something, the speaker looks away while signing. ASLSJ uses an eye direction prefix 'e with a direction letter to show where the eyes are directed away from the signing direction. 'r 'es shows the speaker signing at the wide-hand side, but looking toward the base-hand side.


If a long section of sentences are directed away from the audience, use the direction flag and a dash "".


Sometimes a word or phrase is intentionally slowed down or sped up for effect. For example, changing the pace of a cow walking can show how really slowly the cow is moving. Changing the pace of an acrobat on a flying trapeze can emphasize how really fast the acrobat is flipping. Prefixing these phrases a signing speed flag "qs" or "qf" indicates a difference in speed from the standard conversation.


In conversation, part of a sentence can be signed with the hands' roles reversed - the wide hand serves as a base for the base hand's signing, or is unused. This part of the sentences would be flagged with 'h. After a punctuation mark like a comma or a period, the speaker would normally return to using their wide hand. If this is not clear enough, you can use the signing hand flag 'a.


A question mark shows the eyebrows being raised in a question. When part of a sentence is used to prefix a question, the speaker looks like they are considering an option and they pause their signing. It isn't quite like a direct question. ASLSJ uses "qc" to show the pause.


There are times when the tongue is used to add emphasis to a sign. ASLSJ uses "v-" to note tongue words. ASLSJ uses "v-ll" to show the tongue is sticking out and flapping up and down like "La-La-La-La".


When a word is clearly non-standard or pantomime, ASLSJ uses "a-" prefix on those spellings.

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