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American Sign Language: "blame"

Right "A" hand moves forward over the left "flat-b-palm."
This sign can be used to mean "It is your fault."

Also see: FAULT





The sign "blame" is directional (the sign moves towards the person who is "to blame").

"Blame" can also be used to mean "accuse," "charge with," or "indict."


BLAME-me, accuse-me, it's my fault.



In a message dated 1/21/2008 5:20:20 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, lwilt@ writes:
Hi, Dr. 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

Dear 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:
Such phrases would be accompanied by non-manual markers (facial expressions/body language) such as a "scrunched nose."
-- Dr. 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?

- Linda


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 different and somewhat wider semantic range than the ASL sign "FAULT."

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