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Lisa Koch

on 30 April 2014

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Reflexive or Emphatic
MY FRIEND ‘indexing-left’
MY FRIEND ‘eye gaze-left’
MY FRIEND ‘both indexing-left and eye gaze-left’
Examples of Plural Pronoun Indexing
English translation: “A group of my friends are over there.”
MY FRIEND GROUP ‘both arc-indexing and eye gaze-right’
MY FRIEND GROUP ‘arc-indexing right’
MY FRIEND GROUP ‘eye gaze-right’
Now you have an understanding of the
function and how to use pronoun indexing,
both singular and plural.
5. Demonstrative ("Y")

• "that one" indexed to a location
• Can be done in front of the signer, meaning "THAT'S the one."
(No location is assigned since the pronoun is not being set up in space.)

a. Pronouns that mean ‘myself, ‘yourself’, etc., are called reflexive or emphatic pronouns.

b. The pronoun meaning ‘myself’ had two forms illustrated below.

c. Singular reflexive/emphatic pronouns (such as ‘yourself’, ‘himself’, or ‘itself’) are expressed by moving the handshape toward the person or thing with a repeated shaking movement.

d. The Signer ‘points’ with this handshape (specifically with
the area between the knuckles and first finger joint) to the
person or thing.

e. In the case of plurals (‘yourselves’ or
‘themselves’), the pronoun also uses an arc.
ASL Pronominalization
Part Two

Examples of Singular
Pronoun Indexing
1. Indexing or pointing (extended index finger)
• By far the most commonly used
• Can refer to persons, places or things
• Can be modified to show plurality

2. Possessive (flat hand)

• Shows ownership
• May refer to both the owner and what is owned
• It can also mean a characteristic or trait of some one or some thing.

3. Reflexive/Emphatic ("A" handshape)

• Emphasizes the noun
• Can stand for such English phrases as: "up to you, think for yourself,
I did it myself!"
4. Honorific (bent "B" thumb out)
Myself or Yourself
Spatial Locations
A crucial aspect of ASL is its use of space - the area around the signer's body. He/she may refer to a noun that is not present by setting it up – i.e. establishing it in a specific location around his/her body. Then the signer can use a particular pronoun handshape to refer to it. The following are ways in which signers refer to people, places or things that are not present.
When Someone is Not Present
a. When the people or things are not present in the immediate environment, then the Signer must ‘set up’ or ‘establish’ these non-present people or things in specific locations in the signing space.

b. The Signer can then point to these locations, which ‘stand for’ certain people or things. These points serve as pronouns – just as if the people or things were really there.

1. Reality principle

• If recalling an actual event in the past, the signer will set up pronouns in the same location and / or arrangement as it actually occurred.

2. Unknown locations

• Generally, right-handed signers begin setting up to their right, left-handed signers to their left.
• The listener then uses the same set up.
• The second set up is usually on the opposite side from the first.
• MUST include eye gaze

Spatial Locations
Role Shifting
Setting up on passive hand

• People or objects are set up on the various fingers of the passive hand.
• This is done to show a series usually up to five but may show more.
• Once each person or object has been identified, this does NOT need to
be done again. The signer needs only to point to the specific finger.

Indexing can be broken into two types:
singular and plural to convey pronoun referencing. Singular indexing is used to identify pronouns “he, she, it” whereas plural indexing is used as an identifier for “we, they, all of you.”
An example of the singular part, as translated in English is, “My friend is over there.”
• To confer more respect to the individual
• For formal situations i.e. speeches, religious settings and artistic signing
• Can be used sarcastically when done with appropriate facial expression

Honorific pronouns are reserved for formal situations, when acting (plays) or when giving a presentation on stage. The hand or hands are used to formally identify, introduce or acknowledge oneself, another person or a group of people.

Let’s look at the use of honorific pronouns in context:

Allow me to introduce myself…
I would like to introduce the presenter, actors…
Hello and welcome everyone

6. Number Referents
(two, three, four and five)

• two of us (you and I)
• two of us (he/she and I)
• two of you
• two of them
• twos back and forth
• threes in a circle
• Is much more commonly
used than we.

There are several strategies that Signers use to set up or assign specific spatial locations.
3. Identifying the pronoun to be set up and referring to it

• Usually immediately before the pronoun is set up, the signer identifies it with a noun or a fingerspelled label.
• Occasionally, the noun may be given after the index, usually for emphasis.
• Eye gaze must accompany the set up.
• Directional verbs are used to and from the pronoun.

One of the most common uses of pronouns set up in space is to relate prior conversations. Role shifting allows for vivid realistic visual details, usually missing from similar English stories.

5. Demonstrative ("Y")

• "that one" indexed to a location
• Can be done in front of the signer, meaning "THAT'S the one."
(No location is assigned since the pronoun is not being set up in space.)

• The signer describes a conversation entirely in the first person, as if in direct quotes. The English use of "she said” and “they asked me" is not necessary in ASL. It is understood by the body movements involved.

• Whether or not the exact words are conveyed is not crucial. Instead, it is important that the spirit of the communication is conveyed.
Material is taken from:

American Sign Language by Charlotte Baker and Dennis Cokely

T.J. Publishers, Inc.
Silver Spring, MD.

• The participants in the prior conversation will be established in space, but NOT across from each other. They will be set up for the convenience of the signer.

• Eye gaze and head and shoulder shift are CRUCIAL to relating the conversation.

• The signer will NOT maintain eye contact with the listener until the story is finished. When he/she again focuses on the listener, this signals that the signer is finished communicating and it is now the listener’s turn to communicate.
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