Directing Conversations

Back to Sign Steps         Writing Levels

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 '' and a direction to specify the part of the scene that gets attention. ''q> has the speaker looking at the dominant-hand side of the scene. ''q< looks to the nondom-hand side. ''i^ looks at the forehead height. ''iv looks down. ''qv looks in at the speaker's chest. You can also combine direction letters. ''q>\iv looks lower on dominant-hand side than ''q>.

After a punctuation mark like comma or period, the speaker would normally look back to the audience. If the speaker refers back to the audience in the middle of a sentence, you can use the audience-looking direction ''q^.

English: He used the car that has red wheels.
ASL-Gloss: (look-nondom) The car; (look-nondom-down) it has red wheels. (look-dominant) He (look-nondom) 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 (look-nondom) he said: "Well done."

_llll           A cnnnn                       clnnn          clnnn (_\)                  \lulull
l__l . q^   /__/  l__l . #iv Z   ''q<   \l\     . q^   __ll         . [+] Z :   " \l\      . [+] Z  ''--^v  ..  "

Here we see the main object is _llll l__l . q^  A cnnnn /__/ l__l . #iv Z  YOUR WORK. The ''q< eye word places the clnnn \l\ . q^  HIM actor at stage-left. The ''--^v 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 == with a direction letter to show where the eyes are directed away from the signing direction. ''q> cc--q< shows the speaker signing at the dominant-hand side, but looking toward the nondom-hand side.

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 cc--= or cc--# indicates a difference in speed from the standard conversation. Zq< or Zq> follows a word that repeats several times in a direction.

In conversation, part of a sentence can be signed with the hands' roles reversed - the dominant hand serves as a base-block for the nondom hand's signing, or is unused. This part of the sentences would be flagged with cc--S . After a punctuation mark like a comma or a period, the speaker would normally return to using their dominant hand. If there are several sentence that go back and forth between primarily signing with the nondom hand, you can use the nondom-hand signing flag cc--{ eventually followed by the dominant-hand signing flag cc--}.

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  cc--  to show the pause.

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

Continue to Writing Levels