Nominal vs Cardinal numbers in ASL

Cherie Wren cwterp at YAHOO.COM
Mon Feb 9 23:25:12 UTC 2009

Cardinal is counting numbers: one two three
Ordinal is ranking numbers: first second third
That is really all English does.  

Nominals and quantifiers are subsets of cardinal numbers.  In English when I say my SS number, I say one one one, two three four, five six seven eight.  ASL does it differently.  The word nominal means its a noun.  My phone number is 555-8620.  That number is a noun.  But if I say I have 4 books, that number is an adjective.  It tells you something about the books, just like if I said I have green books.  The palm is facing in for numbers as adjectives, but not for numbers as nouns, generally. You don't sign palm in for a SS number, for example.  Notice that in English, the numbers are still just cardinal numbers, even though they are used as nominals... 4 books, 555-8620.  Just cardinal numbers.  NOT in ASL.  

I have a really good video on number systems in ASL... I'll try to find the title and send it along, but its at work, and I'm at home...


From: Adam Frost <icemandeaf at>
To: SignWriting List <sw-l at>
Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2009 8:45:54 PM
Subject: Re: [sw-l] Nominal vs Cardinal numbers in ASL

Cherie, do I have the naming wrong? I have been using nominal for palm out and cardinal for the 1-5 palm in. 


On Feb 8, 2009, at 5:33 PM, Cherie Wren wrote:

I vote for page numbers to be simple palm out from the body...  cardinal.

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