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Does ASL fingerspelling use capitals?

-William G. Vicars, EdD

Capitalization of fingerspelling:
In typical casual signed ASL conversations it is rare to need to indicate capitalization of a word while fingerspelling.

You may need to indicate capital letters when you are in mixed language environments where one of the languages uses capital letters and you, your client, or your student specifically needs to indicate a capitalize a letter.

Some sample situations:

Dealing with passwords and/or some case-sensitive usernames.
Creating logos or designs (Deaf artists / designers discussing client specifications for the job to be done).

Students who will be taking spelling tests or who are taking writing classes in which the use or misuse of capitals will be graded.

Spelling of names to brochure designers who may need to use bicapitalization (the use of a capital letter in the middle of a word or name--such as a company or brand name like iPod or a surname such as McDermott.

The concept of "to capitalize a letter" can be shown by using a sign for CAPITALIZE-[letter]

Version 1: quickly change a baby-O hand into a baby-C hand

Version 2: quickly change a G-hand (or closed-G hand) into a loose-L

Note: some people might refer to either of those two versions of "CAPITALIZE" as classifiers but I believe a case could be made that the signs are recognized widely enough and common enough that we can simply consider them to be regular signs (based on fossilized classifiers).

Note: capital-D has its own unique sign: ;

The sign for "Capital-D" is commonly used when referring to the state of being culturally Deaf as in "Deaf with a capital D."




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