In a message dated 11/20/2002 5:55:43 PM Central Standard Time, Lara writes:
<<Which of the following do you consider "more ASL"?
Which of the following do you consider more English?
Phrase 1. "I wouldn't dream of retiring!"
Phrase 2. "Retire? I wouldn't dream of it!"
See my point? They are both, equally English.
Phrase number 1 is more common though.
Someone who isn't familiar with the ins and outs of the English
language might think that phrase 1 is more English than phrase 2.
who is familiar with English might think that Phrase 2 is better because it
seems more complex. But we need to stop and realize that phrase 1 is
actually quite complex as well: noun-subject/auxiliary verb+adverb-
"contraction"/ verb/preposition/verb intransitive.
Phrase 3. "Last night my brother's friend came
Phrase 4. "A friend of my brother's came to dinner last
The double genitive (two possessives: "of" and "brother's") construction in sentence #4 doesn't make it any more or
less English than the more common structure of sentence #3. Some
English teachers might not like phrase 4 very much and actually criticize a
person for using that sentence. Regardless of whether or not the
teacher "likes it" millions of English speakers use it.
What "is" and "isn't" ASL is a moving target. For example:
the sign WELCOME has several
meanings and interpretations. In addition to "welcome" it also means: "hire" and
This sign is in a state of changing
opinion in the Deaf Community.
You will meet some people who say it is an okay response
to "thank you."
Quite a few ASL teachers however will tell you it is NOT appropriate to use
this sign as a response to "THANK YOU."
The sign "WELCOME / hire / invite" is done by
holding the flat hand palm up out away from your body (off to the right a bit)
and then bringing the hand in toward your torso.
WELCOME / hire / response:
My recommendation is that you use this sign to mean things like:
"Welcome, come on into my home."
"I hired him."
"I invited her.
I recommend that you do NOT use this sign as a response to
So, what should you do if someone tells you "thank you?"
I recommend that you reply with one of these:
When teaching ASL there is a prescriptive approach and a descriptive
Some ASL teachers tell their students that the sign WELCOME is not an
ASL sign. Doing so is "prescriptive."
Such teachers are striving to prescribe
ASL according to their notions of how ASL should be -- as
opposed to what ASL is.
Let me share an amusing story with you:
I remember a conversation (many years ago) with an ASL instructor named
________ (name on file). Near the beginning of the
conversation I had signed WELCOME in response to him thanking me for
something. He "corrected" me and indicated that WELCOME wasn't an
ASL sign (we are both interested in what is and isn't ASL so it wasn't as
rude as you might imagine). I questioned him about it and apparently he had
recently been to some workshop or seminar and a person with letters
behind their name who lived more than 50 miles away (which means
that person must be an
expert, heh) had told everybody at the seminar that the sign WELCOME isn't
an "ASL" sign.
I asked ________ (name on file) what he
preferred instead and he gave me the
usual, "SURE, THANK YOU, THUMBS-UP, FINE" replacements. I said "OH-I-SEE"
and we went on with our conversation. (Of course I already knew and used
those signs regularly as well.)
Now here's the funny part, near the end of our half-hour long conversation
on my doorstep, I thanked him for coming by and he without thinking signed "WELCOME!"
out his usage of the "forbidden sign" and he did a
major "gulp" and turned a pretty shade of red.
So, there you have an example of a Deaf ASL instructor who for most of
his life has signed "WELCOME" in response to "thank you" and then he attends
a workshop and has some other Deaf ASL instructor announce that "WELCOME" is
not an ASL sign. So now he becomes an evangelist and starts spreading
the message that you shouldn't sign "WELCOME" because it is not what Deaf
people "do." (Even though he is Deaf and obviously he "does" it).
After a while, enough people repeat that same message: "WELCOME" is not a
good response to 'Thank you' in ASL." At some point, after enough
people spread and accept that message it will become the new standard!
It will become the new normal. It will stop being prescriptive and it
will become descriptive due to the passage of time and adoption by the
"typical" Deaf person.
A descriptive approach to ASL instruction simply tells the students what
is currently out there being used by the Deaf Community without trying to
"preserve, memorialize, or de-English" it.
The fact is thousands and thousands of Deaf people do use the sign WELCOME. Plus,
numerous recognized experts in the field of ASL have documented the
"WELCOME" sign in various ASL dictionaries and instructional texts.
The text "A Basic Course in American Sign Language"
by Tom Humphries, Carol Padden and Terrence J. O'Rourke lists the sign as
"HIRE, INVITE and then includes the word "welcome" in lowercase.
Rod Butterworth in the Perigee Visual Dictionary of Signing:
An A to Z guide to over 1,200 signs of American Sign Language, lists
the sign as meaning WELCOME, "a common gesture of politeness and
in the Random House American Sign Language dictionary (1st ed.), includes
the sign--and what's more--SHE INITIALIZES IT with a "W"!
included the WELCOME sign in "American Sign Language: A Comprehensive
I could go on,
there are others, those are just the first four I grabbed off my
shelf, but you see my point.
These people are "awesome" signers and they included "WELCOME" in their ASL
The sign WELCOME is prominently listed in
dozens of major ASL dictionaries and is instantly recognized by
every adult native Deaf ASL signer I have met.
So, should YOU use the sign WELCOME in response to being told "thank you?"
My recommendation is "no". The sign is "controversial" and from all
indications the "tide" is turning against the WELCOME sign being used as a response
to "thank you." Thus if you use the sign WELCOME as a response to
"thank you" it will likely have one of two results:
1. The other person doesn't care one way or another how you sign WELCOME.
2. The other person will judge you as not being familiar with how Deaf
people do ASL.
Why risk it? Instead just use WELCOME within the limits of what it is
used by adult native Deaf ASL signers and use other signs, (SURE, FINE,
THUMB-UP, ANY-TIME, NO-PROBLEM) in response to "thank you."
Now, in specific response to your question of which is "more"
ASL of the two:
They are both ASL.
The first one is
Subject/Predicate. The predicate consisting of a transitive verb and a
I notice you use the # symbol, (which goes by many names: number sign,
crosshatch character, pound sign, hash, octothorpe, etc.)
In ASL Gloss,
that symbol is used to indicate the lexicalization of a fingerspelled
word. (For example: #ALL, #WHAT, #BUSY)
I figure you are not indicating that the sign "ANIMALS" is
lexicalized, but rather indicating a "variable number" of ANIMALS.
that to the concept of "MANY."
MY FAMILY HAVE MANY ANIMAL
That sentence seems fine.
But what happens when we exchange MANY for a
"number" in the second version of the sentence. Which looks
ANIMALS MANY, MY FAMILY HAVE!
MANY ANIMALS, MY FAMILY HAVE!
ANIMALS, MY FAMILY HAVE MANY!
If you are like me, you chose the last one.
I don't see (imagine) the sentence "ANIMALS #, MY FAMILY HAVE" really
being used much. Topicalizing the noun-object ANIMALS works fine, but
topicalizing an adjective+noun-predicate just doesn't work that well..
is what I'd recommend instead:
ANIMALS, MY FAMILY HAVE #.
Try it and see
if it doesn't, "feel" better.
But remember, they are both ASL:
ANIMALS, MY FAMILY HAVE #.
Ask around though and most people will tend to pick the one that looks
"least" like English.
Truth be told the appropriateness of which
one you use is tied to "register variation."
In a more formal
situation Deaf will tend to sign fewer topicalizations. In a less
formal situation we tend to topicalize more. So, which one is
"better" ASL will depend on who is in your audience.
--- BillVicars@ wrote:
> In a message dated 4/1/2005 9:35:10 AM Pacific
> Standard Time,
> smdaniluk@ writes:
> Hello Dr. Vicars,
I have a question about the use of pronouns "you" vs. "yourself" and "he/she" vs. "himself/herself". I find it very confusing to see sentences like "He himself Deaf", instead of "He Deaf", or as in your lesson 35, "Motorcycle you have?", but in another sentence "yourself", not "you" is used when asking someone if he wished he had a hearing aid.
When should "-self" be used and what's the difference? Thank you so much.
> Suzanne _______
> Houston, Texas
> In English you might occasionally ask someone if
> they wanted "their own"
> hearing aid or "their own" apartment.
> For example
> Compare these two sentences:
> I want an apartment.
> I want my own apartment.
> The second sentence has a different meaning. It
> indicates that the person
> wants to be independent.
> How would we express that meaning via ASL? We would
> do so by using the sign
> PRO-1 WANT MYSELF A-P-T = I want my own apartment
> Now consider these two sentences:
> Do you wish you had a hearing aid?
> Do you wish you had a hearing aid of your own?
> Possible interpretation:
> YOU WISH YOU HAVE HEARING-AID?
> YOU WISH YOU YOURSELF HAVE HEARING-AID?
> The second sentence implies that the person asking
> the question has a
> hearing aid or that the two people in the
> conversation have been interacting with a
> person who has a hearing aid.
> Do I use the sentence "HE HIMSELF DEAF?" If so,
> which lesson?
> Let me give you an instance where you might see the
> "...HIMSELF DEAF"
> concept used appropriately.
> Suppose you were telling a story and wanted to say:
> "There was a deaf man
> who bought a motorcycle."
> HAPPEN MAN HIMSELF DEAF BOUGHT MOTORCYCLE.
> Dr. V