ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library


Semantic Range:
 

William Vicars
Initial date: Jan 21, 200
8
 

Semantic Range

In a message dated 1/21/2008 5:20:20 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, lwilt@ writes:
Hi, Bill, I have a question for you – what is the difference between using the sign for “blame, accuse” to indicate “fault” versus the sign where the hand drops down from “responsibility”? do either of these signs represent the concept of ‘having many faults’ (shortcomings)?
Thanks for your help!
Linda Wilt


Linda,

The "BLAME" sign can mean "accuse," "It is your/my/his/her/its fault" or "blamed." This sign is directional thus it can indicate who or what is "at fault" or who is being "accused" as well as who is doing the accusing.

The "FAULT" sign is non-directional and needs a sign such as "YOUR," "MY," or "HIS/HER" to indicate the object. This sign cannot be used directly to indicate "accusation." You would need to sign, "SHE INFORM-me your-FAULT" or "SHE TOLD-me YOUR FAULT."

"Shortcomings" would not use the sign "FAULT." Shortcomings would be described with phrases such as:
"HE/SHE PROBLEMS MANY!"
"HE/SHE WEAK MANY!"
"HIS/HER CHARACTER? SO-SO."
"HE/SHE not-GOOD-ENOUGH."
Such phrases would be accompanied by non-manual markers (facial expressions/body language) such as a "scrunched nose."

-- Bill


In a message dated 1/21/2008 10:11:12 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, lwilt@ writes:
Ok, so besides one being directional and one needing a possessive pronoun both sign mean the same thing?


In a message dated 1/21/2008 1:46:28 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, BillVicars writes:
No. Each sign has its own semantic range (a range of meanings). The semantic ranges of the two signs do overlap, but not completely.
If you look the words up in an English dictionary you will note that the word "fault" has about twice as many meanings as the word "blame."
The ASL sign FAULT only expresses two or three of the meanings of the word "fault."
The meanings of the word "blame" generally contain the concept of "to" as in "to find fault," "to accuse," "to attribute."
I generally think of the ASL sign "FAULT" as being limited to meaning "responsibility for some negative occurrence or situation."
The ASL sign BLAME carries a wider semantic range than the ASL sign "FAULT."



In a message dated 1/21/2008 1:01:54 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, lwilt@ writes:
Sorry to get so hung up on one concept. It seems like when I use the ‘responsibility’ type fault (ie; it was your fault) my friend gently corrects me by signing the ‘accuse or blame’ fault (as she often does, if I’ve used the wrong sign for a concept she repeats what I’ve said but uses the correct sign in place of whatever I said wrong), and I’ve just had a tough time figuring out the difference in this case.


Linda,
There are many different types of feedback. Here are a few examples:
1.  You are doing the right sign the wrong way. (Production error.)
2.  You are doing the wrong sign the right way. (Semantic choice error.)
3.  You are doing an "okay" sign but here is a more efficient way. (Inefficiency error.)
4.  You are doing an "okay" sign but there is a way to sign it that is further away from Signed English on the signing continuum. (Language choice error.)

Signing "YOUR FAULT" is an okay way to express the concept "It is your fault."
The fact that there is a way to express this with one sign instead of two is too tantalizing of a feedback opportunity for some mentors to pass up. 

There are times when it is more appropriate to sign "YOUR FAULT" than "BLAME-you."
For example, if I want to clearly establish that the fault is definitely yours, not mine I can use the "YOUR FAULT" phrase and produce the sign YOUR in an exaggerated way and hold it longer.

Here is a phrase to ask your Deaf friend to sign:
"Suppose a student fails class, do you think it is teacher's fault?"
If you use the sign "BLAME" for that sentence it leads to confusion.  The listener may think that you are asking if he or she thinks thinks that the student will blame the teacher.

Additionally, if no one is blaming anyone but someone is at fault, and/or we don't know who is at fault we are more likely to use the FAULT sign.  For example, "WHO FAULT?"
If we signed, "WHO BLAME?" it would be less clear since it could be inferred that the signer is asking "Who is doing the accusing?"
 


 


Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   GET IT HERE!  


NEW!  Online "ASL Training Center!"  (Premium Subscription Version of ASLU)  ** CHECK IT OUT **


Also available: "ASLUniversity.com" (a mirror of Lifeprint.com less traffic, fast access)  ** VISIT NOW **

Want to help support Lifeprint / ASLU?  It's easy!