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American Sign Language: Agent Affix / Person Affix / Person Sign

There is a sign that many people simply call "the person sign." By that they mean, "the sign that you add to something when you want it to be a person."  It is also called the "person affix" or sometimes the "agent affix."  Regardless of what you call it, this sign is often added to certain other signs to create a new concept of "a person who does..."

PERSON or "AGENT sign"

For example, we can add the "PERSON-affix" sign to the sign TEACH, to create the sign "TEACHER."
Here is an example of the sign: TEACHER:



Note: The casual version of the sign "teacher" is done lower--down closer to the chest and shoulders. I'm showing the sign rather large to emphasize the "person affix."  The first two frames show the concept "TEACH." The last two frames show the sign "AGENT."  Meaning, an agent of teaching.  Or "a person who teaches."

Let's take a look at the sign for student:

STUDENT (or "Learner"  =  "LEARN-PERSON")

The first two frames show the concept "LEARN."  Notice the last two frames.  That is the AGENT-affix sign.


Not all "person" signs use the agent sign.  Some do (LAWYER, TEACHER) some don't (DOCTOR, DENTIST). How do you know which ones do?  You take lots of classes, study lots of resource materials, and/or hang out with Deaf people for a long time.


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