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Book Spotlight:  On the Other Hand


"Personal pronouns"

(A brief excerpt from On the Other Hand by Dr. Elaine Costello. South Carolina Department of Education, 1992. p. 25)

"In English we have specific words for specific pronouns, e.g., he, she, it, they, etc. In American Sign Language (ASL), the use of pronouns is accomplished by indexing or pointing. If the person or other thing you want to refer to is present, you can point in the direction of the referent. If the referent is not present, you can set up an imaginary area for the referent toward which you can point throughout your communication. That area remains constant for that particular referent and all conversational partners use the same designated area when referring to that person or thing. Remember this location can only be used after the referent is clearly identified.

In Pidgin Sign English (PSE), two strategies for pronoun representation are available to the signer: the English words can be fingerspelled or the pointing strategy used in ASL can be employed. Knowing the communication strengths and habits of your conversational partner will help you decide which strategy to use.

If you elect to use pointing to designate present or absent referents, remember that in ASL, it is a complex part of the signing system. Basically, you are using a marker, a designated location, to refer to a person or object."

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