ASL Lessons | Bookstore | Library | ASL University Main ►

Percentages in ASL:  How to handle 6% / 60%, 7% / 70%, 8% / 80%, 9% / 90%

Also see: PERCENT

Last night Bee and I were discussing some random topic during which one of those percentages came up (6% / 60%, 7% / 70%, 8% / 80%, 9% / 90%) and one or the other of us asked for clarification and then of course we spent the next 15 minutes discussing percentages and signing instead of whatever we were previously discussing.

The fact is some signs look very similar to other signs.  For example:

6% vs 60%
7% vs 70%
8% vs 80%
9% vs 90%

So how do you make sure the person with whom you are conversing understands your intended meaning when signing one of those percentages?

1.  Context: Your intended meaning might be made clear by the rest of your message or by the nature of the topic you are discussing.  If you are in a low context situation you may need to adjust the movement or tempo of your signing to make your intended meaning more clear.

2. Movement changes. 

a.  Do the signs 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% using a short sliding movement (toward the dominant side) of the signs 60, 70, 80, and 90 prior to doing the PERCENT sign.

b.  Do the signs 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% using a double movement of the signs 60, 70, 80, and 90 (in situ) prior to doing the PERCENT sign.  ("In situ" means "in place" -- or in other words when using the duplication approach you don't do a downward or sideward movement for the signs 60, 70, 80, and 90. You just do them "in place" before doing the PERCENT sign).

c.  Do the signs 6%, 7%, 8%, and 9% by starting the arcing movement of the sign PERCENT directly from the location of the 6, 7, 8, and/or 9. 

d.  Do a very slight downward movement while signing 60, 70, 80, or 90 prior to doing the arcing movement of the PERCENT sign.  for 60%, 0%, 80%, and 90%

e.  Add a slight pause after doing the number.

3.  In "critical or high importance situations" where there is little or no room for miscommunication a "restructuring approach" can be effective. You could do the PERCENT sign first and then show the number.
For example you could sign "PERCENT 60" (instead of 60 PERCENT). 
That approach would be the somewhat like saying in English: "A percentage of 60."  While that might be awkward in English due to requiring more words -- it doesn't require more signs in ASL since you simply switch the order from 60 PERCENT to PERCENT 60.    Such an approach might be used by Deaf stock traders or scientists for clarity when discussing percentages with other traders or scientists.  It would be "lingo" -- but professional or career-related lingo is indeed helpful for smooth and effective communication within that field or discipline.

4. Mouthing:  Some signers may choose to mouth as if they were pronouncing the percentage.  The use or non-use of mouthing varies widely in the Deaf Community. Since the English sounds "dee" or "tee" are not very visible on the lips and do not involve much extra mouth movement when stating 60%, 70%, 80%, and 90% versus stating  6%, 7%, 8%, and 9% -- mouthing in this situation is not very efficacious (or in other words -- doesn't help much)..



Vicars, William (12/31/2020)

*  Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy
DONATE  (Thanks!)

Another way to help is to buy something from Dr. Bill's "Bookstore."

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

*  Also check out Dr. Bill's channel:

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