How It Works

Back to ASLSJ Instruction         Eye Word Spelling

ASL has an inventory of generally recognized ASL words using specific handshapes at specific locations, but peoples' actual signs can be quite varied.  Just like pace, pitch and pausing in written English, ASLSJ can only hint at how fast something is signed, how many times it is repeated, or what facial / body expressions are used.

ASLSJ breaks ASL words into a sequential pattern for writing.  These syllables are in two groups separated by a hyphen.  Before the hyphen is the initial hand placement.  After the hyphen is the movement and possibly the destination hand placement.


Sections:

1) Body tilt, eye gaze, head nod / shake, movement speed
2) Finger spelling
3) Handshape
4) Base-hand* handshape
5) Location
6) Palm facing
7) Touch or Distance
8) Movement
9) Ending handshape or palm facing
10) Repetition



1) Body tilt, eye gaze, head nod / shake, movement speed
Starting character: ' (apostrophe) or q
Description: Describe body language

eyes looking right 'r = looking and signing to the wide-side*
eyes looking left 's = looking and signing to the base-side*
qf = move fast
qn = shaking head side to side
qs = move slowly
qy = nodding head up and down


2) Finger spelling
Starting character: w
Uses: The next word is a spelled-out English word using the ASL manual alphabet

w-Soon = English word "soon"
w = English word indicator
-Soon = fingerspell letters S, O, O, N

wqfz-VP = Vice President
w = English word indicator
hand at forehead height qf = forehead height
Move onto body z = on body (to forehead)hand on forehead
-VP = fingerspell letters V then P


3) Handshape
Starting character: any first letter except p followed by b,c,e,n
Uses: First two letters of the word describe the wide-hand* handshape or both hands' matching handshape

bei-z = mine
open-B handshape be = wide-hand* open-B handshape (four fingers together and flat with palm)
(presumed chest height)
Palm In i = palm facing in toward body
Move onto body -z = move hand onto body (to chest)

bezi-uy = happy
open-B handshape be = open-B handshape
(presumed chest height)
Move onto body z = on body (to chest)
Palm In i = palm facing in toward body
Move up -u = move hand up
y = repeat movement (come back and move again)

cnzi-d = hungry
C handshape cn = C handshape
(presumed chest height)
Move onto body z = on body (to chest)
Palm In i = palm facing in toward body
Move down -d = move down


4) Base-hand* handshape
Starting character: first letter p followed by any letter
Uses: The P syllable is a prefix showing the base-hand uses a different handshape than the wide-hand

plr-xbs-tsy = word
1 handshape pl = base-hand 1 handshape (first finger extended flat with palm)
Base-hand palm wide-side (across body) r- = base-hand palm facing wide side (across body)
G handshape xb = wide-hand G handshape (first finger and thumb bent)
(presumed chest height)
Palm base-side (across body) s = wide-hand palm facing base-side (across body)
-ts = move wide hand base-side (across body) to touch base-hand
y = repeat movement (come back and touch again)

pbu-aestd-ii = help me
open-B handshape pb = base-hand open-B handshape
Palm up u- =  base-hand palm up
open-A handshape ae = wide-hand open-A handshape (all fingers closed to palm, thumb spread out)
(presumed chest height)
Palm base-side (across body) s = wide-hand palm facing base-side (across body)
Move down to touch base-hand td = wide-hand touching down on base-hand
-ii = both hands move in

pbu-onu-tdy = money
open-B handshape pb = base-hand* open-B handshape
Palm up u- = base-hand palm facing up
O handshape on = wide-hand* O handshape (four fingers together and bent, first finger touching thumb)
(presumed chest height)
Palm up u = wide-hand palm facing up
Move down to touch base-hand -td = move down to touch base-hand
y = repeat the movement  (come back and touch again)



5) Location
Starting characters: f, n, j, q, z
Uses: Wide-hand* location relative to body

befs-oy = lecture
open-B handshape be = open-B handshape (base-hand is not used)
hand at forehead height f = forehead height
Palm base-side (across body) s = palm facing base-side
Move out -o = move hand out toward audience
y = repeat (come back and move again)

onni-zy = food
O handshape on = O handshape (base-hand is not used)
hand at neck / chin height n = chin / neck height
Palm In i = palm facing in toward body
Move onto body -z = move hand onto body
y = repeat action (come back and move again)


6) Palm facing
Starting character: d, i, o, r, s, u  Combining character: p
Uses: Direction to face the palms and point the fingers or knuckles

beo-o = yours
open-B handshape be = open-B handshape
(presumed chest height)
Palm out o = palm facing out toward audience
Move out -o = move hand out toward audience

lns-o = you
1 handshape ln = 1 handshape
(presumed chest height)
Palm base-side (across body) s = palm facing base side
Move out -o = move hand out toward audience

bbrspd-rs = introduce
bb = bent-B handshape
rspd- = base-hand* palm wide-side; wide-hand palm base side with knuckles turned down
rs = base-hand move wide-side; wide-hand move base side (toward each other)


7) Touch or Distance
Starting character: j, t  Combining characters: c, e, w
Uses: Wide-hand* relative to base-hand

beddtu-o = enter
open-B handshape be = both hands open-B handshapes
(presumed chest height)
Base-hand palm down Palm down dd = base and wide-palms facing down
Move up to touch base-hand tu = wide-hand touching up to base-hand
Move out -o = move wide-hand out

ceddju-sy = above
5 handshape ce = both hands 5 handshapes (four fingers and thumb spread apart flat with palm)
(presumed chest height)
Base-hand palm down Palm down dd = both palms facing down
Wide-hand farther up from base-hand ju = wide-hand farther up from base-hand
Move base-side -s = move wide-hand to base-side (across body)
y = repeat movement (come back and move again)


8) Movement
Movement characters: a, i, o, r, s, t, u  Combining characters: g, l
Uses: Shows the wide-hand* movement or both hands' movements

anrs-ioy = race
an = A handshape
(presumed chest height)
rs = base-hand palm wide-side; wide-hand palm base-side (facing each other)
-io = base-hand moves in; wide-hand moves out (move past each other)
y = repeat movement (come back and move again)

lnfi-sgdy = consider
ln = 1 handshape
f = forehead height
i = palm in
-sgd = move base-side (across body) and circle down
y = repeat movement (continue circling)

Cnqszs-rld = Christ
cn = C handshape
(presumed chest height)
qs = base-side* of chest (across body)
z = on body (to chest)
-rld = move wide-side angled down


9) Ending handshape or palm facing
Starting character: h or l
Uses: Shows the fingers bent into a new handshape or the wrist twisted into a new palm facing direction

cbfi-ol-on = out
cb = claw-5 handshape
f = forehead height
i = palm in
-o = move out
l- = wide-hand* changes handshape in movement
on = new wide-hand handshape

lnfo-ahs = first
ln = 1 handshape
f = forehead height
o = palm facing out
-a = hand stays in place
hs = palm facing base-side (across body)


10) Repetition
Starting character: y or k
Uses: Shows the movement occurs more than once, or gets undone

beud-tdy = school
be = open-B handshape
ud = base-hand* palm up; wide-hand palm-down (facing each other)
-td = move down to touch base-hand
y = repeat movement (come back and move again)

pbr-les-tsk = illegal
pb = base-hand* B handshape
r- = base-hand palm wide-side (across body)
le = wide-hand* L handshape
s- = wide-hand palm base-side (across body)
ts = move base-side to touch base-hand
k = come back (undo movement)



* I use the words Wide and Base in place of the more technical terms "Dominant Hand" and "Non-Dominant Hand."  Most people use their right hand for the Wide-hand, and their left hand for the Base-hand.  Left-handed people use their left hand for the Wide-hand, and their right hand for the Base-hand.

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