why is the thumb this way

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Jun 27 16:46:03 UTC 2005

  Ingvild Roald wrote:
I am sure that this has been done with some consideration, but I am  
wondering about the system behind the way the thumb is shown in some  
handshape symbols, see attached. For the A-handshape and the L- 
handshape, the thumb seems to be where it 'ought' to be, while for  
the hitch-hiker's handshape, the thumb is coming from the middel of  
the hand, where the middle finger is.
Can you give an explanation, please?


Hello Ingvild and Everyone!
Yes...This handshape, which we use for the number 10 in ASL, is a  
weird handshape. And to re-invent it now would change so many  
documents around the world, that at this time, anyway, I would like  
to try to work with it, as it was designed in the 1980's...But it is  
good to discuss it, to see if you can live with it ;-)))

Of course I can see that it is not consistent with the L  
handshape...If we were to change how to that symbol works, other  
problems pop up you would never believe ...

One of the best discussions on the web is on this web page...


My answer on this web page explains how I was thinking when the  
symbol was developed 20 years ago...Number 4 in my answer is a good  

and here is a screen capture of that page:

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