Assimilation is when a sign takes on (assimilates) the handshape,
location, movement, or orientation of another sign.
In a message dated 8/6/2002 2:34:45 PM Pacific
Daylight Time, Lara writes:
Can you discuss beyond simply a definition about
assimilation in ASL?
A good example of a sign that tends to assimilate or "take on the
handshape of" other signs is "ME." If you watch a
conversation closely you will notice the "ME" handshape occasionally
taking on the handshape of the sign before or after it. A very typical
example is the phrase, "I KNOW" in which the "I/ME"
sign tends to take on a "bent-B" handshape.
Also, if you watching signing that is fast or very casual you might notice the
weak hand assimilating the handshape of the strong hand in certain signs that
normally use a different handshape on each hand. Whereas if the signer
were in a more formal situation he or she would do the sign with different
handshapes on each hand.
Assimilation can also occur with features of signing other than just handshapes.
What about assimilating the location or movement. Sometimes, especially if
I'm tired or excited, I find myself signing the weirdest combinations like doing
"please forget" by rubbing my fingers on my forehead in a circular
manner. (That is a made up example. But it is not far fetched by any
means.) If you notice other examples, please do email them to me.
Guess what! I am so excited! I was chatting with
some friends the other day and I SAW ASSIMILATION in
ACTION! Before I had trouble totally grasping the
concept but on this day it was different. I was just
sitting there watching Linda talk and I saw it!
Immediately I recognized it AS assimilation. Very
cool. I own that knowledge now, ya know?
But in the trueness of who I am, I have another
question. :) Can you help me understand metathesis??
Also, I know what a phoneme is in a oral language but
not in ASL. Can you help?
Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!
Sure. :) See:
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