ASL Grammar - Is this correct?

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Jan 29 18:41:28 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
January 29, 2006

Hello Adam and Everyone!
Thank you for this email....wonderful to get such excellent feedback  
from you...writing from the Master ASL! books is a fun project...

> Adam Frost in California wrote:
> Sorry that it took me a while to respond to your question. (I had  
> to get to a computer to see the attachment.) The sentence is a good  
> one; however, the eyebrows need to be down or you are asking a yes/ 
> no question. So basically, this sentence is saying "Hello, your  
> name is What, right?" :-) I know it isn't the meaning that you are  
> looking for, so the eyebrows need to be down. I see that Stefan  
> wrote that in his re-write.

Perfect. Thanks for your feedback, from both you and Stefan!!

> You are right about the use of the deixis rather than the  
> possessive form. Most native English speakers never think of it  
> this way, but the use of the possessive pronoun is used to signify  
> possession of something. A name is not considered a possession, but  
> rather a part of who you are. So I guess a more direct translation  
> of the sentence to show that would be "What is the name for you?"

Good information, thank you!

> I have looked at It looks really good from what I  
> have seen, the most thorough that I have ever seen.

I agree. I think Jason Zinza, the author, should receive applause for  
the great job! And I appreciate the permission to write a few  
sentences from the materials...There are also video tapes on the  
Master ASL! web site, and I need to ask permission to maybe write one  
small portion of a video to show people the written ASL too...after  
that I will leave the writing to other ASL users, as I am pretty  
overworked right now:

Master ASL!

> The only thing that I found disappointing was the emphasize on the  
> close marker with the original pronoun. (Using two deixis within  
> one sentence, one in the sentence and the other at the end.) It  
> isn't wrong, but it is only used in formal settings like a club  
> meeting or at church. Most Deaf will only use the last deixis when  
> carrying on a typical conversation. (Or you the first only if the  
> are more English.) That is the reason I said above that your  
> sentence is a good one (except for the eyebrows) because it would  
> only truly be used in a formal situation. It would be like saying  
> ¿Cómo esta usted? at a coffee shop. A very good Spanish sentence,  
> but being used in an inappropriate situation because "usted" is  
> only used in formal situations. I guess it annoys me that teachers  
> will stress things like this without explaining when it is  
> appropriate and inappropriate. (And they do it with other languages  
> as well, not just ASL or any Sign Language.) I guess because they  
> don't want to overload their students, but I like the way that my  
> professor teaches her students. She will just throws it in there  
> that there is a loop hole rather than saying it is an absolute, so  
> that later they can learn it when they are ready without saying,  
> "But my teacher said that..."
> This was longer than I was thinking that it would be, but I just  
> had to say this. Thanks for listening. :-)
> Adam

No - This is very interesting. And you are right that it is teaching  
ALL languages that this problem occurs. Books generally try to show  
the formal correct version, and to discuss more relaxed ways of  
communicating is hard in a formal I think we have to take  
writing books for what they are...they are not the personal  
touch...but just the general language rules that everyone needs to  

By the way, that is why, with my personality, I need to learn  
languages live, amongst the users...I learned Danish living with  
Danes, rather than in school, for this very reason...I wanted a  
practical communication and not a thesis on Danish grammar - but we  
all learn differently and I admire Jason's work...and I hope that  
more and more ASL signers will start writing ASL documents...there is  
a new computer program coming soon for SignWriting that will help  
with preparing documents without using any English words, designed by  
Steve Slevinski...and I will announce that when it is ready...

Thanks for your feedback on the writing of this sentence...

I am going to sign offline for the rest of Sunday...I hope to see you  
all online this next week! Val ;-)

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