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One Handed Signing:

In a message dated 5/23/2007 8:29:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time, rgt0705@ writes:
Dear Bill,
 
I have been using your site to learn from for years.  The only "formal" sign language training/classes I've ever had was what I remembered learning as a child by watching my aunt and uncle (who is deaf) communicate and by someone I used to work with who is partially deaf.  I, by no means, am able to communicate the way I'd like to.  I don't have anyone to sign with, so receiving is not one of my strong points.  However, I've always loved signing and every now and then will learn to sign some of the hymns at church and sign them on Sundays.  I just recently started working at a day care center and was asked to incorporate signing into my teaching.  My director has taken a sign language course and also watches a program on TV aimed at teaching children some signs.  I know what your opinion is of someone who is correcting another about how they sign.  However, today she signed the color "green" with an "h" instead of a "g".  She said this is the way it was signed on the TV program.  Also, one of the other teachers came in and asked how to sign "play".  She used one hand instead of two and told her to be careful because it also can mean "yellow".  I told her she was incorrect.  She said that her instructor told her that it was ok, because some people only have one hand.  I don't agree with teaching two-handed signs using only one hand.  If it is a two-handed sign, then teach that sign using both hands.  If a person only has one hand, then, the person they are having the conversation with will understand what they are trying to say from the context of the conversation.  Who is correct, especially when incorporating these signs in our lessons to hearing children?  I would greatly appreciate hearing from you soon. 
 
Rhonda Thomasson
Dinwiddie, VA
Rhonda,
Hello.  :)  
Many signs naturally evolve from two handed signs into one handed signs simply because they are easier that way.  For example "CAT" used to be a two handed sign and now is commonly done with one hand.  I've been watching the sign "thousand" evolve from the two-handed version into a one-handed version.  Thousand went from touching an "M" hand to the palm, to touching a bent hand to the palm, and is now showing up as a bent hand jabbing forward/down at an angle without making contact with the second hand.
One handed signing is not "correct" because some people only have one hand.  A one-handed sign become "correct" when a preponderance of ASL users recognize it and accept it into their vocabulary.  
The evolution of a two-handed sign into a one-handed sign will be resisted or greatly delayed in those circumstances where there is an existing one-handed sign with a different meaning.  Thus I agree with you that at this time the sign PLAY is best done with two hands, thus reserving the one-handed version for the concept of "yellow."  Now, of course if you have a cup of hot chocolate in your hand and you want to sign PLAY, by all means do use the one handed version. 
Cordially,
Dr. V
p.s. Green is indeed done with a "G" hand.  A good way to remember this sign is to shake your "g" hand in the air while stating loudly, "I've got something green on my finger and I can't get it off!"  Heh

Also See: One handed signing (2)
Also See "Right or left handed signing"


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