Eye Word Spelling

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ASL is not just pantomime.  ASL words have meaning, history, correct pronunciation, and are used as specific parts of grammar.  Because you can see ASL words in three dimensions, ASL speakers often add pantomime or hand-puppetry to common ASL words.

Although ASL can move the face, hands, arms, and body at the same time for individual words, ASL sentences are pretty sequential.  In English we say someone's name and thereafter use words like "she" or "he" to refer to the person.  To talk about someone in ASL, we look at a location beside the audience, sign the person's name, and thereafter move things to or from their location.

's = look to base side (look to an imaginary person on the stage left of audience)
w-Sarah = fingerspell the first person's name
'r = look to wide side (look to an imaginary person on the stage right of audience)
w-John = fingerspell the second person's name
's = look back to first person (John is looking in Sarah's direction)
bepo-fdy = "Hey!" (John waves his hand to get Sarah's attention)

When talking to someone or an audience directly, you speak straight forward.  When referring to someone or something that is not present, you would glance or twist your body to look at an imaginary location where they "stay" during the conversation. ASLSJ identifies these locations as Eye Words.  They are short directional words telling to which side of the audience you are imaging someone while you talk about them.

ASLSJ: Lns-o 's lnoo-oohdd.
Gloss: You l'base go-there.
English: You, go over there.


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