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Copy of ASL Grammar
Transcript of Copy of ASL Grammar
Rule #1: Ordering of Simple Sentences.
In simple sentences the verb can be placed before or after the object of the sentence.
*We will place the verb after the object whenever possible.*
The basic structure in English is Subject-Verb-Object. (SVO)
Ex. Bob kisses the frog.
In ASL, the word order is Subject-Object-Verb (SOV). Even though this is not a sentence structure in English, it is basic in ASL.
Ex. I play a game.
HOWEVER, not all simple sentences can have an SOV word order!
The phrase: BOB KATE KISS yields the translation "Bob and Kate kiss."
But, BOB KISS KATE yields the translation "Bob kisses Kate."
Some simple sentences can have SVO or SOV word order. Again, we will focus on SOV.
Ex. I am going to class.
ME CLASS Go-to.
ME GO-to CLASS.
The meaning usually does not change with the placement of the GO-to sign.
Let's try a few.
Jack is going to the store.
I like ice cream.
Thomas lives in Austin.
Mindy likes Jack.
Billy and Bob are on the train.
Michael loves airplanes.
Rule #2. TOPIC/COMMENT. In a simple topic/comment sentence, the topic is described first followed by the comment.
This is very common because ASL tends to structure sentences in the order that events occur.
It follows common sense. There must be a topic before a comment, right? :)
Ex. HE WON 3 MILLION DOLLARS, HE HAPPY.
Topic: HE WON 3 MILLION DOLLARS,
Comment: HE HAPPY.
English translation: "He won $3,000,000 and he is happy," or " He's happy that he won $3,000,000."
The ASL test is easy.
DOG GOOD, you-GIVE-it COOKIE.
She's upset that she lost her money.
BOY STAND BESIDE CHAIR, HE MY BROTHER.
The topic can vary depending on what the signer wants to emphasize.
Two years ago I had a wonderful vacation.
topic: 2-YEARS-AGO ME VACATION
topic: ME WONDERFUL VACATION
My name is Tina.
I feel good when I sign.
I am always ready to learn more ASL.
I am surprised that you are taking science.
I am taking science too.
That's wonderful that the two of us are taking science.
ASL TEST, EASY
The dog is being good. Give it a cookie.
HER MONEY LOST, SHE UPSET.
The boy standing beside the chair is my brother.
topic: MY NAME
comment: MY NAME
topic: ME SIGN
comment: FEEL GOOD
topic: LEARN MORE ASL
comment: ME READY ALWAYS
topic: YOU TAKE-UP SCIENCE
comment: ME SURPRISED
topic: ME SURPRISED
comment: YOU TAKE-UP SCIENCE
topic: ME TAKE-UP SCIENCE
Get it? One last step!
Non-Manual markers accompany the topic. While you sign the topic, you must raise your eyebrows.
When you write the gloss, you draw a line on top of the topic and label it "topic."
BOY THERE, MY SON.
Write 10 topic/comment sentences, including non-manual markers. Write the English translation for each.
Rule #3 TENSE WITH TIME ADVERBS. The time adverb is placed at the beginning or near the beginning of the sentence.
Unlike English, verbs do not change to indicate tense. Placing the time adverb at or near the beginning of the statement changes the tense of the statement.
After the time adverb has been indicated, all sentences after will have the SAME tense.
Tense can be changed only be signing a different time adverb, changing the topic, or using a sign that is not a time adverb but tells about time, such as FINISH, WILL, or NOT-YET.
LAST NIGHT, SUNSET BEAUTIFUL.
The sunset was beautiful last night.
IN-2-DAYS, YOU GO-to WORK.
You go to work in two days.
ME YESTERDAY, STAY HOME.
YESTERDAY, ME STAY HOME.
I stayed home yesterday.
FINISH - The sign is used to indicate that an activity has been completed. It can be placed before or after the verb.
HE MOVIE FINISH SEE.
He saw the movie.
ME WORK FINISH.
I have finished working.
WILL - The sign is used to stress that the action will indeed take place in the future. It can be placed before or after the verb or at the end of the sentence.
ME WILL SEND-you LETTER.
I will send you a letter.
me-MEET-you WILL, TOMORROW ME PROMISE.
I promise I will meet you tomorrow.
PHONE HOME TWICE WEEK, ME WILL.
I will phone home twice a week.
NOT-YET - The sign is used to show an action that has not yet occurred. It is often placed at the end of the sentence or it can be used alone as a response.
ME HOMEWORK FINISH, NOT-YET.
I haven't done my homework yet.
Rule #4: SIMPLE YES/NO QUESTIONS. In short sentences that ask a yes/no question, the order of the signs can change.
YOU EXERCISE WANT?
YOU WANT EXERCISE?
WANT EXERCISE YOU?
EXERCISE YOU WANT?
Do you want to exercise?
1. eye contact
2. raised eyebrows
3. tilt head forward
non-manual signals can be made throughout the question.
When writing the gloss, you draw a line on top of the entire question and write "y/n". This is the "question mark" for the statement.
ICE CREAM YOU LIKE.
Rule #5. long yes/no questions. Long yes/no questions use the topic/comment format.
First, describe the topic. The sign that asks the question is placed at or near the end of the sentence.
CAT BLACK TREE CLIMB, YOUR?
Is that black cat climbing the tree, yours?
CLEAN DISHES WASH CLOTHES, HE?
Is he going to clean the dishes and wash clothes?
GO-to STORE BUY FOOD MILK, READY YOU?
STORE BUY FOOD MILK YOU GO-to, READY?
STORE BUY FOOD MILK GO-to YOU, READY?
Are you ready to go to the store and buy food and milk?
The non-manual signs are the same as short yes/no questions. The only difference is that they are only applied to the signs that ask the question.
When writing the gloss, the line and y/n goes over the sign that asks the question.
CLEAN DISHES WASH CLOTHES, HE?
Rule #6. Information Seeking Questions. We know these as WH-Questions. These questions have variable sentence structure and rely on non-manuals to distinguish them declarative sentences.
1. Maintain Eye Contact
2. Eyebrows down
3. Tilt Head Forward
Most of the time, Wh-questions follow the topic/comment format and the wh-questions sign is placed at or near the end of the question.
SHE WORK HERE, HOW LONG?
SHE HERE WORK, HOW LONG?
How long has she worked here?
CITY DESTROY BUILDING, WHY?
Why did the city destroy the building?
What food are you bringing to the picnic?
PICNIC FOOD YOU BRING, WHAT ?
YOU PICNIC FOOD BRING, WHAT?
When was he born?
HE BORN, WHEN?
How did you fix the fence yesterday?
YESTERDAY YOU FIX FENCE, HOW ?
YESTERDAY YOU FENCE FIX, HOW?
When writing the gloss write a line above the sign that will ask the question and write "wh".
Rule #7. PRONOMINALIZATION. Pronouns are indicated in two ways:
1. by pointing to a person or thing that is present or
2. by pointing to a place in the signing space that is used as a referent point for a person or thing.
Pointing is usually done with the index finger but sometimes eye gaze and other handshapes are used.
Pronouns in the presence of a person or object
When the person or object is present, simply pointing Yields the pronoun.
To create the pronoun THEY or THEM, the index finger must be swept past the group.
Pronouns in the absence of a person or object
before the signing space can be used to sign pronouns, the signer must first establish a referant in the signing space
this is done by naming the person or object and then point to a spot in the signing space
MY BROTHER, point-right, HE VISIT ME.
HE point-right DEAF.
YESTERDAY, TEACHERS (sweep-left) STUDENTS (sweep-right) THEY (sweep-left) SHOW-UP, THEY (sweep-right) NOT.
Rule #8. RHETORICAL QUESTIONS. The signer asks a question and then answers it.
This is a common grammatical structure in ASL. There is no expectation that someone else will answer the question.
Rhetorical questions use the question signs for WH-questions.
When WHY is used, the English translation will often include "because".
ME KNOW ASL? YES.
I know ASL.
Notice that in the English translation, "yes" was omitted. The point is to translate the meaning/concept and "yes" is not needed.
ME LOST WHY? NOT PAY-ATTENTION STREET NAME.
I didn't pay attention to the name of the street and got lost.
Non-manuals are the same as short yes/no questions. That means you use non-manuals while signing the entire question and your eyebrows are up even if you use a wh-question sign. It is very important to hold the last sign of the rhetorical question before answering it.
Rule #9. Conditional Sentences. In a conditional Sentence, first the condition is described and then the outcome.
Non-manuals here are critical so let's do that first!
1. eyebrows raised
2. head tilted slightly to one side
3. the last sign of the conditional clause is held slightly longer than the other signs
4. body inclined forward (in some cases)
The conditional clause is
always at the beginning of the sentence
. In English, this is not always the case.
SUPPOSE - signing this will clearly mark the conditional clause.
SUPPOSE HE SHOW-UP, DO-what YOU?
If he shows up, what are you going to do?
SUPPOSE SHE SEE ME, ME MUST LEAVE.
I will have to leave if she sees me.
SUPPOSE TONIGHT SNOW, TOMORROW YOU CANCEL SCHOOL.
If it snows tonight then you will cancel school.
I-F can also be used to give greater emphasis to the condition.
I-F SHE CAN'T COME, YOU LOSE CONTRACT.
If she can't come you will lose the contract.
Rule #10. NEGATION. You can negate a thought by placing a negative sign before the verb or by first describing a topic and then signing the appropriate negative sign or giving a negative head shake.
Other non-manuals correspond to the type of sentence or question it is.
ME NOT WATCH FOOTBALL GAME.
I'm not watching the football game.
ME CHEAT, NEVER.
I never cheat.
ME GO HOME NOW? NEG-headshake
JACK STORE GO-to.
ME ICE-CREAM LIKE.
THOMAS LIVE AUSTIN.
MINDY LIKE JACK.
BILLY, BOB RIDE TRAIN.
MICHAEL LOVE AIRPLANES.
Try the next few. If you there can be more than one topic, write both translations.