To be or….nope, not to be

One of the most interesting and unique parts of ASL is the fact that the verb “to be” is absent from the language.  This is something that you have already learned, but may not be aware that you know.

For example:

The sentence “I am going to the store” is signed as “STORE I GO”.  “I am” is missing and is only added when we translate the sentence in to English.

This is true for every conjugation of the verb.  “I went to the store” becomes “STORE I GO FINISH”, “We are going to the store” becomes “STORE WE GO”, and so forth

This affects much more than you would originally think.  The statement “This is who I am,” becomes simply a gesture to your self.

“Who are you?” Becomes “WHO YOU?” “That will be fun!” is “FUN FUTURE”.

In order to understand what is being signed, you need to have a clear grasp of the ASL timeline, which, luckily, is the next grammar lesson!

Features of ASLdeafined

There are numerous American Sign Language websites online.  And, you may not know which website to use.  Here at ASLdeafined, we try to meet the needs of all our users.  Listed below are many of our wonderful features we offer to every subscriber.  If there is something you would like to see on our site, please send us an email.  We would be glad to consider it.  Our email address is [email protected].

Features of Video technology – 21st Century

  • Themed Lessons(140 + lessons) – 24/7 (always online)
    • 15 words per lesson
    • 4 retention exercises
    • New lessons added frequently – continuously evolving
  • Periodic Quizzes and Reviews
    • Constantly reviewing learned vocabulary and concepts
  • Individualized progress chart(students have their own username and password)
    • Every completed activity is scored and recorded
    • Instant feedback from completed activities
    • Excellent for progress monitoring
  • Fingerspelling
    • Starts off with 3-letter words and goes to 8-letter words (increase in speed)
    • Detect fingerspelling within an ASL phrase
  • Spelling (English – unscramble the word activity)
  • ASL grammar lessons
    • ASL to English
    • English to ASL
  • Deaf Culture and history
  • Story time
    • with comprehension questions
    • Based on learned vocabulary
  • Customizable vocabulary bank
    • Over 10,000 words to choose from
  • Synonyms with words(ASL is based on concept)
    • One sign could have multiple synonyms (car:  automobile, vehicle, transportation)
  • Automatic vocabulary review (based on customized vocabulary bank)
  • Customizable favorite pages
    • Favorite lessons
    • Favorite pages
    • Favorite activities
  • Alphabet and numbers
  • Multiple meaning words(Concept words)
    • Multiple meaning word activity  – checking for comprehension
  • ASL syntax / grammar
  • Classifiers
    • Samples of how to use classifiers
  • Common phrases used in ASL
  • Non-manual markers

The Use of Synonyms in American Sign Language (ASL)

Synonyms in American Sign Language are powerful to know when learning this vast language. For example, if you were to sign “car”, what else could that sign represent? It could represent the words: Vehicle, automobile, transportation, and auto. You can probably think of an additional word or two that also means “car”.

Many times when people are learning American Sign Language (ASL), they have a tendency to focus only on the gloss (basic) word, and not the other words associated with that particular sign. For example, think of the sign for “father”. What additional words can you think of that would match this sign? I can think of “papa”, “dad”, and “pa”. Do you know others? Remember, ASL is based on concepts, and not on the English language.

I want to challenge you to think of as many synonyms for some of the words you have already learned how to sign. Again, an example could be: Anniversary. Some synonyms would be: Holiday, jubilee, festival, fiesta, celebration, and perhaps others that you might think of. All of them use the same sign to convey the concept of the word “anniversary”.

In the video examples below, can you think of synonyms that are associated with these signs?

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Guess This Phrase…

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It is important in American Sign Language to use closure when figuring out what someone is signing.  In this “Guess This Phrase”, I will give you a hint.  The phrase is about food.  Now, if you are not understanding this phrase, do not worry.  ASLdeafined can help you with receptive skill practice.  We have a ton of lessons that focus on just that, receptive skills.  In addition, we have story time, fingerspelling practice, grammar, Deaf Culture, vocabulary enhancement exercises, and much more.  If you haven’t seen our site yet, please take a look.  You will absolutely love it.  Oh, and our dictionary is one of a kind.  We have over 9,000 video words with synonyms.  Not only will this help you understand ASL better, but it will help you reach your ultimate goal with American Sign Language.

If you ever have questions about ASLdeafined, please email us at [email protected] .  We are always here to help!


Myths About American Sign Language (ASL)

Myth #1:  American Sign Language is Universal.

American Sign Language is not universal.  This myth is often shared by the majority of the hearing community.  American Sign Language is learned by the majority of the Deaf community in North America.  In addition, there are other countries that have adopted American Sign Language as their form of a visual language.  Furthermore, American Sign Language is a derivative of French Sign Language (FSL).  People, who know American Sign Language, or French Sign Language, would be able to communicate pretty well with each other.  However, just because one country speaks English, does not mean their sign language system would be used in another country that also speaks English.  The more you know about American Sign Language, the more you will realize that it is not a universal language.

Myth #2:   American Sign Language is Shorthand.

Numerous people believe that American Sign Language is a form of shorthand.  And, these people would be incorrect.  American Sign Language is not a form of shorthand, but a complex language system with linguistic components.  Many people have this belief because American Sign Language does not have a written component to it.  Instead, American Sign Language is a manual way of communicating with those who can, and cannot hear.  The next time you hear someone say that American Sign Language is a form of shorthand, you can politely correct them.

Myth #3:  All Deaf People use American Sign Language.

This myth is definitely false.  There are many deaf people that do not know, or learn American Sign Language, for one reason or another.  Some deaf people grow up learning how to read lips and talk in order to communicate with those around them.  Other deaf people are raised in an environment where he or she learns American Sign Language as their primary language.  Regardless of which method one learns, now you know that all deaf people are raised differently, with different communication methods.

Myth #4:  American Sign Language is Easy to Learn.

American Sign Language is not easy to learn.  In fact, it takes many years to “Master” this language.  In order to learn American Sign Language, it is imperative to interact with the Deaf community.   People often think that by completing a couple of classes in American Sign Language, one would be able to interpret or sign at a proficient level.  However, this belief is definitely completely wrong.  To learn American Sign Language, it takes the same amount of time, or longer as a spoken language, to learn or master.  The more you practice your American Sign Language skills, the better you will become.

 Myth #5:  Parents of Deaf Children Learn American Sign Language.

Ninety percent of deaf children are born to hearing parents, of which, seventy-five percent do not know American Sign Language.  Many times, parents with deaf children do not learn how to sign.  Instead, they force their children to learn how to lip read and talk in order to communicate with them and other family members.  On average, lip reading is the least effective way to communicate with those who are deaf.