In a message dated 11/1/2005 7:51:37 AM Pacific Standard Time,
Hi, quick question for you. If I want to say the word "what" in a non-
question form, how do I sign that. I know a lot of the time we'll just skip
the word what (when it's in a non-question form), but if we don't how would
we say it. For example, "That is WHAT I ment." Or "Let me tell you/show you
WHAT is bothering me (or, let me tell you WHAT bothering me).
In ASL the concept of "what" can (and usually should) be expressed in ways
other than by using a specific
In the sentence "That is what I meant." You would sign, "THAT! I MEANING."
The sign THAT would be emphasized by using a bigger, slightly faster
movement. Or you might just sign, "MY POINT!" (The right index finger would
point at the left upright index finger.) Thus you didn't use a
specific sign for "what" but you didn't need one either.
In the sentence "Let me tell you what is bothering me" you would sign,
"SOMETHING BOTHER ME, YOU-MIND I TELL-you ?" The variation of the
"SOMETHING" sign I'm referring to can also mean "someone or single."
I strongly advise you to not seek out or begin using a specific sign for
"WHAT" for statements. Rather, you should seek to figure out the underlying
concepts and use appropriate ASL equivalents.
Now, there is a form of "what" that you might not have learned yet that is
very good to know, and that is the variation used for "exclamations." This
is the lexicalized (mutated fingerspelling that sort of looks like a sign)
version: #WHAT, which starts as a "W" handshape, moves forward and down
quickly and ends in a "T" handshape. That version is used when you want to
express incredulousness or astonishment.