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American Sign Language: "understand"


Hold your hand up near your forehead. Your index finger is bent and the tip of the index finger is touching the pad of your thumb (your thumbprint).  Then flick your index finger so that it points up.


Memory aid: Think of a "light bulb" turning on in your head.


Often students ask me "How do you sign 'don't'?"  I always have to ask them what is the rest of the sentence in which they want to use the concept of "don't." The reason I need to know the rest of the sentence is because there isn't just "one" sign for "don't." There are dozens of ways to express the concept of "don't" in ASL.  Most of the time the concept is "incorporated" into the movement of the sign and the facial expressions or shaking of the head.
For example, in the sign "don't understand" you express the concept of "don't" by using a negative headshake:

See: (for a Youtube video clip of don't-UNDERSTAND)



Beyond the typical meaning of "comprehend" -- the sign UNDERSTAND can in context be used to mean:
"but, I want to emphasize that..."
"please understand that"
"keep in mind that"
"get clear on this next point that"

For example:
(You can borrow my truck but when you bring it back the gas had better be full!)

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