ASL - Grace

Stuart Thiessen smt_sw at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Feb 26 16:28:33 UTC 2004

Well, this is by no means my "preferred" sign in terms of expressing
meaning.  It is more the sign that was taught to me by a Baptist
interpreter long ago when I was first learning ASL as the sign for
"grace".  I am still searching for a meaningful sign for "grace" (and
many other religious signs where the meaning is not communicated well
by the conventional sign). This may be more apropos to a ASL
Linguistics discussion, but the issue remains in my mind that many
religious signs for abstract concepts do not communicate the real
meaning very well. I'm from Iowa and I still see different signs for
religious concepts depending on which denomination or religion the
person belongs to.  Obviously, Christian terms will be very different
from Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or other religions. Baptist, Lutherans,
Catholics, Presbyterians, etc. will more likely have similar meanings
even if they might choose slightly different signs to express the

Here is a classic example our deaf church recently debated: the
traditional sign for "SAVED" or "SAFE" vs. the sign that many in our
deaf church are using because its meaning is clear.

The first sign is the traditional sign for "SAVED" or "SAFE". In this
spelling, rather than focusing on the wrist movement, I decided to
capture just the beginning and ending locations. The wrist rotation and
movement to the sides is implied in this spelling.  It seemed to add
more complexity to the spelling than was necessary since you can't get
from start to finish without a wrist rotation.  Do you agree with this
spelling or would you spell it differently?

The second sign (if I've spelt it accurately ... those diagonals always
get me) is signed with the 1 hands forming a cross that moves
diagonally downward from slightly above the shoulder to your heart.  I
don't have all the location details for above the shoulder because of
the diagonal marker indicating both coming down and diagonal and I
understood that if there is no location marker for the asterisk, it is
assumed to be central?  Is that correct?

For Christian meaning, the idea of salvation theologically implies that
Jesus' death on the Cross was applied to your life so that you were not
guilty anymore for your sin.  That is why the second sign has so much
more meaning compared to the first sign. The first sign implies safety,
which really doesn't capture the whole meaning. The Greek term _sozo_
does mean "save" in the sense of "deliver" or "rescue".  So that is
where meaning and just finding the closest gloss sometimes aren't the
same. Some deaf prefer the traditional sign even though the meaning is
not really there.  Some prefer to have a sign that means something to
them so it becomes an interesting discussion.

I've also seen this sign used by a few European deaf on a video once.
That is where I learned it.  The US deaf I was with liked the sign and
began to use it more.  I am not sure if some use it there too or if it
was taught to them.



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On Feb 26, 2004, at 12:21 AM, Adam Frost wrote:

> Stuart and List,
> I am not too pro at SW spelling (or spelling at that matter), but it
> seems
> good to me. As for the sign, I have a question because I have never
> seen
> that sign. That doesn't mean that it is wrong. I have been shown many
> signs
> that I had never before seen, but were great signs. I have been
> looking for
> a sign for grace for a long time and have yet to find a sign that
> gives the
> full meaning. Do you know what idea this sign comes from or where it
> comes
> from? Maybe it is just a sign that is just used in your general area
> and/or
> just your general relgious sign. Maybe you can let me know what part
> of the
> country you are in and which relgion you are to help me.
> -Adam
> PS The ASL Birthday Song is coming soon. ;-)
> _________________________________________________________________
> Click, drag and drop. My MSN is the simple way to design your homepage.

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