Nominal vs Cardinal numbers in ASL

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Feb 8 20:43:28 UTC 2009

SignWriting List
February 8, 2009

Thank you, Adam, for this really good explanation of the problem...and  
for your vote for nominal. That has always been my feeling too...

However, around four months ago I had a long discussion with another  
native ASL signer about this and that person voted for the if you count my vote, then we have one cardinal and two  
nominal, but i am not native or we need more opinions, or  
maybe test readers and ask them to search for pages in the book only  
using ASL numbers to see which works best for them finding the pages  

Any others have opinions on nominal or cardinal page numbers in ASL?

Val ;-)


On Feb 8, 2009, at 12:01 PM, Adam Frost wrote:

> A very fine line here because page numbers are counted pages which  
> number the page with a label. They are often used as both  
> interchangeably mostly because English doesn't distinguish between  
> both and most people don't know the difference. When thinking about  
> how I usually refer to pages, I usually use the cardinal form as I  
> am basically saying "turn 5 pages from the beginning" verses "turn  
> to page 5" which would use the nominal form. However, I think that  
> we are actually labeling the page as "Page 5" so I think that in  
> this case it should be nominals that are used. I hope that makes  
> sense. Anyway, that is my 2 cents worth. (Hmm... would that 2 be  
> cardinal or nominal? Ha!) ;-)
> Adam
> On Feb 8, 2009, at 11:40 AM, SignWriting wrote:
>> SignWriting List
>> February 8, 2009
>> Hi SW Listers!
>> I need your advice. Most ASL numbers are the same whether they are  
>> nominal or cardinal, but there are five that are different....the  
>> first five numbers are cardinal inside a sentence, but nominal when  
>> telling people your phone number, your apartment number etc...I  
>> believe that is correct anyway ;-))
>> In other words, the cardinal is part of meaning in a sentence, but  
>> the nominal is like a "label" stating your Social Security  
>> Number (a long number that represents a person in the US)...if it  
>> has a lot of "ones" 111-897-1102...or something like  
>> that...I don't believe the palm turns towards the chest when  
>> stating your Social Security Number, does it?
>> So when reading tiny tiny page numbers at the bottom of pages in a  
>> 500 page SignWriting book, should the page numbers be nominal or  
>> cardinal? I have always felt that the page numbers were like  
>> "labels" for finding a page quickly...but others have disagreed  
>> with me...meanwhile most people do not have a lot of experience  
>> reading large books in SignWriting yet, including myself, so we all  
>> are guessing a bit... It may really be a matter of all of us  
>> getting used to this, and figuring out, by testing readers, who can  
>> find page 1 faster...when it is nominal or cardinal? smile...
>> I am updating our old Goldilocks documents with the symbols of the  
>> ISWA and while I am doing that update anyway, I wondered about the  
>> page numbers...They were nominal in the old documents.
>> Should page numbers be nominal or cardinal? Please see attached...
>> <Nominal-Cardinal.png>
>> ____________________________________________
>> SW-L SignWriting List
>> Post Message
>> SW-L at
>> List Archives and Help
>> Change Email Settings
> ____________________________________________
> SW-L SignWriting List
> Post Message
> SW-L at
> List Archives and Help
> Change Email Settings


SW-L SignWriting List

Post Message
SW-L at

List Archives and Help

Change Email Settings

More information about the Sw-l mailing list