question for the way to express 'made'

SignWriting signwriting at MAC.COM
Thu Jan 7 17:21:02 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
January 7, 2009

Hello Gan, Charles and Shane -

Yes, Shane is right. There is definitely a way to do all modifications  
of verbs in sign languages, but the grammar structure is different  
than in spoken languages. In ASL they oftentimes will combine the sign  
for MAKE or CREATE, that Charles showed you, with the sign for FINISH,  
that gives the verb the past tense...however, we need to wait for Adam  
Frost to come back from his trip, since he is a native ASL signer and  
he can explain it better than I can...

And Gan, the reason that Lourdes fingerspelled the sign for MADE is  
not known to us...When we publish a Deaf person's writing, we try not  
to change their signing style, but instead just try to assist with the  
way the signs are written in SignWriting...but the actual choice of  
fingerspelling versus using the past tense for MAKE was Lourdes'  
choice...and we cannot get in touch with Lourdes right if you  
want to wait until Adam comes home...he can do his own version of  
Frosty and then you will have the author to ask...

Meanwhile, from your software perspective, it needs to be able to  
capture and write fingerspelling and facial expressions, if you want  
the software to really be used by the ASL community, because ASL is  
one of those sign languages that uses a great deal of fingerspelling  
and all sign languages use facial expressions...

ASL uses a lot of fingerspelling for scientific terms that do not have  
signs yet, and sometimes the fingerspelling becomes a sign in its own  
right, by blending together to form an unsual group of finger  
movements, so your software needs to get used to recognizing least ASL has one-handed fingerspelling that might  
be easier for your software than the two-handed fingerspelling used in  
the UK...

Those are my thoughts. Adam will be back on January 11th...

Good luck with your software - we look forward to using it someday -

Val ;-)


On Jan 7, 2010, at 9:05 AM, Shane Gilchrist wrote:

> Dear Gan,
> we dont really have past tenses in the same sense as the English
> language - for instance, in BSL (using glosses - sorry!)
> I made food:
> - FOOD COOK^nodding
> non-manual features are very important here.
> Shane
> 2010/1/6 Gan  Lu <glu at>:
>> Hi Charles;
>>   Thanks for the comment. So do you reckon the past tense is  
>> necessary here? And if we use "create". should it be 'Created' then?
>>  Thanks
>>  Gan
>>>>> "Charles Butler" <chazzer3332000 at> 06/01/10 1:54 PM >>>
>> Hmm.  In context the sign, I would think would be either "make" or  
>> "create".  The tense is carried by the situation.
>> create
>> ________________________________
>> From: Gan Lu <glu at>
>> To: sw-l at
>> Sent: Wed, January 6, 2010 8:05:15 AM
>> Subject: [sw-l] question for the way to express 'made'
>> Dear Adam and Valerie;
>>   I'm implementing the system now. While I have a question:
>>     why can't we use an ASL gesture to express the meaning of  
>> 'made' on the first page of the 'Frosty the Snow Man', other than  
>> using the FingerSpellings to sign these four letters respectively?
>>     I suppose the reason is because the word 'made' is a past  
>> tense, and there is no ASL for it.
>>  The reason I'm asking is my intention is to implement the first  
>> page as a 4-by-4 output pattern, which are 16 sign-boxes in total  
>> includes those punctuations. So I'm looking for a way to squeeze  
>> the word 'made' into a box.
>>  Thanks
>> Gan


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