ASL University

 American Sign Language: "ASL and Mime"


Father Akakios writes:

Dear Dr. Bill,

My name is Father Akakios. I am an Orthodox Christian monk at Saint Anthony's monastery in Florence, AZ. I have been learning sign language through and am up to lesson 15. ...

One question that I have been meaning to ask is that when two people are communication using ASL and one person does not know how to sign something but wants to try to mime it is there a way to let the other person know that "I am now trying to communicate with you by miming because I do not know how to sign what I want to tell you". I remember in one of your earlier lessons when you were talking about eating pop corn and you liked it so much that you made gestures of taking the pop corn of the person next to you and eating there's too. I remember clearly understanding what you were communicating but I was wondering if you were signing or miming?

Please forgive me for troubling you if you have already answered this question somewhere on you site.

Also, I hope you would like to know that some signs make a beautiful impression on me. For example in the sign for remember there seems to be an element of reconnecting/bringing to separate pieces re-member. The motion also starts from the mind and moves down to the heart area. After the fall the mind "broke away from the heart" and away from God and like the repentant thief on the cross we ask Christ to re-member us (broken by sin) in His kingdom.

With warm regards,
In Christ's Love,
- Father Akakios



Dear Father Akakios,
Skilled signers do not typically "announce" that the next few signs are going to be "mime."  To other skilled signers it is obvious.
Also, often we are using what some of us call: "classifiers." See: CLASSIFIERS
Think of signing as being on a "spectrum" from arbitrary symbols to highly iconic mime-like descriptions or depictions. Thus "signing" and "miming" are on the same spectrum. One is just more arbitrary and condensed -- the other is more iconic and expansive.
- Dr. Bill

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy Dr. Bill's "Superdisk."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of -- less traffic, fast access).

You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars




back.gif (1674 bytes)