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Sign Me Up! Online Edition

William G. Vicars, Ph.D.

MCSE, MCT, MCP+I, A+, Network+, EdNet

Opening "Chat Log Session 5" 
(Chapter 5) 

Lii: Hi, DrV!:) 

DrVicars: Hi, how are you? 

Tigie: I'm fine thanks, and you 

DrVicars: Great thanks. 

Lii: I'm doing great, thanks! 

DrVicars: So, where are you two from? 

Tigie: I'm in San Francisco. This has been an unusually busy week for me. 

Lii: Colorado. 

DrVicars: Such diversity.  What lines of work? 

Tigie: I work with retarded children, some with other disabilities too 

Lii: I'm disabled with a neuromuscular disease, so I don't work outside the home.  I volunteer,

DrVicars: Gotcha.  What time do you have? 

Sandy: 8:59 

Lii: 7:01MST 

DrVicars: Okay looks like we are ready to get started. 

Tigie: I'm finding it difficult to memorize this stuff w/out someone to practice on/with any

DrVicars: Sure... 

Lii: I volunteer at my sister's elementary school and her class is trying to learn sign so we can
practice together.  It helps a lot./ 

DrVicars: Good idea.  Also have you checked into any of the local deaf clubs? Some of the high
schools have clubs. 

Tigie: I don't know of any here in SF. 

Sandy: Would the clubs be listed in a phone book? 

DrVicars: Sometimes they are, or you could contact the National Association of the Deaf and
ask them for the number of your local chapter or president. 

[Note:  Last I checked, the National Association of the Deaf address is:  814 Thayer Ave Silver
Spring, MD  30910-4500, Phone:  301 587-6282 V/TTY 
FAX:    301 586-4873] 

DrVicars: If you will email me during the week, I will look up the SF club, or at least GLAD. 
That  stands for Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness, (or something close to that). Try
looking that up in your local phone directory  first. 

Tigie: Thanks alot, I will :-) 

DrVicars: I just found a phone number for GLAD 

Tigie: great 

DrVicars: (213) 383-2220 That number is a few years old but you can give it a try.  It is for
their referral program for when you need to find an interpreter, but you could ask for who to talk
to about getting more information. 

Tigie: I'll call them but LA is an 8 hour ride from here. 

DrVicars: They have outreach programs. I used to work for the one in Orange County as a
volunteer back in 1985.  They might still be there. 

Tigie: Cool-thanks 

DrVicars: Okay  welcome to class all of you. Let's discuss indexing, personal pronouns, and

DrVicars: First off,  indexing:  It is when you point your index at a person who is or isn't in the
signing area.  Sometimes we call that present referent or absent referent. 

DrVicars: If the person is there, you can just point at him to mean "HE" 

DrVicars: If the person is not there, if you have identified him by spelling his name or some other
method of identification, (like a "name sign"), then you can "index" him to a point in space.  Once
you have set up a referent, you can refer back to that same point each time you want to talk
about that person. 

DrVicars: Need clarification on that ? 

Sandy: While we're speaking of identifying, how are "namesigns" established? 

DrVicars: Namesigns are somewhat like "Indian names."   You know the movie, "Dances with

Sandy: :-) 

DrVicars: The hero in the movie got that name because he was playing around in a field with a
wolf. The Deaf will sometimes assign you a name.  A very typical method is to take the first
letter of your name and put it in the location of a sign that means something that you do.  For
example a person named Kelly that has a dimple might be given the sign of a "k" handshape
twisting on the cheek. 

Tigie: My nickname is the sign for tiger. 

DrVicars: Do they initialize it with a "T"? 

Tigie: No, two "whiskers" or claws on the each side of the face 

Sandy: ok, that explains why a co-worker refers to his army buddy with a salute while forming
"r", for Ray 

DrVicars: Right it is a good system but localized.  You can't just go anywhere and sign a name
sign.  Some books have (at least one) tried to provide a standardized method.  But that kind of
effort never sticks very long.  If you had two or three people named Joe running around with the
same name sign--it would get confusing which one you are talking about.  In my family we have
a son named Ben.  Ben has a friend named Ben.  So we tend to sign/spell "LB" for our son,
meaning Little Ben.  For little Ben's friend "Big Ben" we touch a "B" hand to the head then the
chest.  An important note though, is that at home when we talk about Ben amongst ourselves we
STILL sign "LB" even when we DON'T SAY the word little.  The point is that although we may
have started signing "LB" due to initialization, after a while the connection was lost and in our
minds the ASL name sign "LB" simply became directly attached to our son. 

That is how ASL often works in general.  Hearing people may occasionally influence the
development of ASL,  (for example, Thomas Gallaudet) but it is the Deaf Community that
decides whether to accept  or reject new signs. 

One last thought on this is that your standards of culture don't apply here.  Deaf will sometimes
give a name sign to someone with a facial scar--that links to the scar. 

This would be rude in hearing culture but to the deaf it is obvious and effective.  Don't think they
are rude because of it.  To them it is normal.  After all, the person knows he has a scar. 

DrVicars: Now lets talk about personal pronouns. 

The simplest way is to just point.  If I am talking to you and want to say "YOU" then I point.  To
pluralize a personal pronoun, you sweep it.  For example the concept of "THEY."  I would point
slightly off to the right and sweep it more to the right.  For "YOU ALL" I would point slightly to
the left and sweep to slightly to the right, (crossing my sight line). 

DrVicars: Of course if the people are present then you can simply point to them.  The more
people there are the bigger the sweep.  Any questions about personal pronouns? 

Art: Does the sweep dip? 

DrVicars: It stays on a horizontal plane most of the time.  If I am talking about a group that is
organized vertically then I will sign (sweep) from top to bottom in an vertical motion. But that is

DrVicars: Okay now let's see how this all ties into  the principle of "directionality." 

Suppose I index BOB on my right and FRED on my left.  Then I sign "GIVE-TO"  from near
my body to the place where I indexed Bob.  That means I give to Bob. 

 If I sign GIVE TO starting the movement from the place off to the right and  move it to the left it
means Bob gave to Fred. 
If I sign starting from off to the left and bring the sign GIVE TO toward my body what would it

Sandy: "Fred give to me?" 

DrVicars: Right. 

Sandy: How do you establish tense at that point? 

DrVicars: Tense would be established before signing the rest of the sentence.  I would say,
"YESTERDAY ME-GIVE-TO B-0-B"  The fingerspelling of BOB would be immediately after
the ME-GIVE-TO and I would spell B-O-B slightly more to the right than normal.  That way I
wouldn't need to point to Bob.  However there are three or four other acceptable ways to sign
the above sentence.  You could establish Bob then indicate that yesterday you gave it to him,

Lii: Can tense be done at end of sentence, or is that confusing? 

DrVicars: That is confusing--I don't recommend it. I can however give you an example of
"appropriately" using a time sign at the end of a sentence.  Suppose I'm talking with a friend
about a problem that occurred yesterday and I sign:  TRY FIND-OUT WHAT-HAPPEN

DrVicars: That sentence  talks about a situation that happened before now, but the current
conversation is happening now.  Some people might try to put the sign "YESTERDAY" at the
beginning of that sentence, but I wouldn't--it feels awkward. 

DrVicars: You can directionalize many different verbs.  Hand-to is the best example, but
"MEET" is also useful. [To sign MEET, you hold both index fingers out in front of you about a
foot apart, pointed up, palms facing each other.  Then you bring them together--it looks like two
people meeting.  Note:  The index fingers do not touch, just the lower parts of the hands.] 

For example ME-MEET-YOU can be done in one motion.  I don't need to sign "I" "MEET"
"YOU" as three separate words.  But rather I hold my right Index finger near me, palm facing
you,  and my left index finger near you, palm facing me.  Then I  bring my right to my left.  One
motion is all it took. 

Monica: How do we know which verbs to use? 

DrVicars: That is the hard part.  Some just aren't directional in nature.  For example:  "WANT." 
You have to sign it normal and indicate who wants what. 

DrVicars: But if you are in doubt about whether or not to use indexing or directionality, go
ahead and index it works every time even though it takes more effort. 

Monica: :-) 

Art: Could you give examples for sweep, chop, and inward sweep diagrams used in [the Basic
Sign Communication book] please. 

[Note, Dr. Vicars uses BSC as one of the texts in one of his classes.  He uses many other texts
as well--not just one.] 

DrVicars: Sure.  The sweep would be to pluralize a sign like THEY. 

DrVicars: The chop I'm not sure what you're referring to is it ... 

[Clarification was made.  The diagram in question is in the Basic Sign Communication text,
ISBN 0-913072-56-7, Level1, module 4, page 17] 

Art: Yes, the center at the bottom 

DrVicars: it.   You are talking about the three diagrams below the slightly
larger one is that right? 

Art: Yes 

DrVicars: Good...we're making progress... If I were handing a paper to a number of individuals,
I would use the middle diagram, [several short ME-GIVE-TO-YOU motions strung together in
a left to right sweeping motion.] 

If I were talking about passing a piece of paper to the class in  general I would use the lower left
diagram, [A sweeping motion from left to right.]  If I were giving the paper to just two people,
I'd use the lower right.  [Two ME-GIVE-TO-YOU motions one slightly to the left, then one
slightly to the right.] 

Art: Thanks 

[...various discussion...] 

DrVicars: Okay homework for next week 

DrVicars: Check out:  Classifiers, Initialization, Terminology and the concept areas of Feelings
and Requests 

DrVicars: Then we will discuss them more next week 

DrVicars: Any questions? 

Sandy: Can you clarify nice/clean vs. excuse? 

DrVicars: Nice and Clean are pretty much the same sign just used in different contexts.  The
concept of "CLEANING" uses a double motion.  The right hand in EXCUSE bends at the top
knuckles, (the knuckles closest to the wrist), whereas both handshapes for NICE/CLEAN tend
to be flat. Excuse generally moves twice, but if you sign EXCUSE with a single motion, it tends
to mean "to lay someone off a job"  "to pardon with finality" or "to release a person from a
church calling," etc. 
If you sign "NICE" using a double motion, it means "CLEAN UP."  [In the proper context.] 
You need more explanation on excuse? 

Sandy: no, I think as I practice it'll come...thanks :-) 

Lii: Can the same sign be used for pants and slacks.  I've seen two different signs for pants and

DrVicars: Yes, but if the deaf in your area feel strongly about it, by all means sign it their way. 

Lii: OK, thanks. 

DrVicars: If I want to say slacks, I will sign "NICE" or "FANCY" before or after signing
"PANTS," (or sometimes you might even see "Church" pants) 

Sandy: LOL 

Sandy: I was just smiling because I am amazed how iconic and straightforward this is -- it makes
so much sense. 

DrVicars: Right San. 

Crazy: I am not sure about signing the colors 

DrVicars: Okay let's talk about colors, Crazy are there any particular questions you have or just

Crazy: When signing the colors, does my palm face me or other people?  Do I shake it left and

DrVicars: Most of the colors (the ones that shake or twist:  BLUE, GREEN, PURPLE,
YELLOW] point somewhat toward person you are talking to.  The palm of the hand is mostly
left or somewhat down depending on what stage of twist or shake they are in. 

But remember, orange, brown, red and a few others are on the face. 

Crazy: okay , thanx 

Tigie: Certain letters, like "d" face the speaker to look like a "d" right? 

DrVicars: Most of the letters somewhat face the receiver (at a comfortable 45 degree angle). 

Let's take the letter d for example, if I were signing to you the tips of my fingers would point a
bit off to your right and the index finger would point up.  Anyway, for most of the fingerspelled
alphabet, most of the letters your palm is pointing mostly forward and somewhat to the left. 

Tigie: Oh, I thought the index finger was facing me. 

[The tip of the index finger points upward, the palm points mostly forward.] 

DrVicars: The exception is for the "g" and "h" letters--he palm is slightly back toward the signer
and/or to the left, (but certainly NOT to the front--that hurts.) 

Tigie: thanks, I was confused 

Lii: Fingerspelling seems a whole lot less... (I can't think of the word)... "cumbersome" in the
way it's supposed to be signed./ 

DrVicars: Sure, just remember my main rule:  "If it hurts, don't do it!" 

Lii: LOL 

DrVicars: The deaf won't sign something in a painful way 

Tigie: I saw a sign interpreter Sat. she didn't use exact english, but ASL. Is that common? 

DrVicars: Sure, lots of variations.  Respect it all. 

Tigie: I could understand a little tiny bit:-) 

DrVicars: I personally sign somewhere between Pidgin and ASL for most of my interactions
with d/Deaf.  That is how many of them sign here in Northern Utah. I code switch depending on
who I'm talking to. It works for me. 

Lii: Can you leave out words like "it" "so" "the", etc. when signing? 

DrVicars: Yes. 

DrVicars: I prefer to leave them out.  They don't help convey the message. 

DrVicars: "it"can be done as an indexed motion, (pointing at the "it"), but "A, AN, THE, and
most BE VERBS" are worthless for visual gestural communication. 

DrVicars: The functions they serve are "still expressed" but in a different form, (head-nods, body
language, facial expression, syntax, etc.) 

Lii: Good!  That helps a lot, because it's easier to get the point across without them. 

DrVicars: For example, with the "head-nod," I can say, "I am a teacher" by signing "ME
TEACHER <head-nod>" the words "am a" are replaced by the head-nod. 

DrVicars: Okay anything else before I wrap up?  Any suggestions to improve the course?  Any
problems with the website? 

Sandy: I'm amazed how much we can get across just by being in this chat room. 

Tigie: I think it's great-I wanna take the next one too-when will it start? 

[various discussion] 

DrVicars: Okay then looks like we've come to the end of a successful session, I will see you all
next week 

Crazy: great class , many thanx 

Sandy: Thanks again for the homework you do to get this all across to us :-) 

Kelly: thanks - bye 

Monica: Thanks, you really helped me with directionality tonight. It was confusing. :-D 

Daniel: Good night all. 

DrVicars: You're welcome.  Bye for those of you who are content.  I'll stay and chat for a bit
with the others 

Lii: Thanks, Bill, for offering this course.  You have a super week.  The rest of you, too. 

Decca: Thanks for all your help.  Good night 
 [Various chat] 

Closing "Chat Log #5"