(A brief excerpt from On the Other Hand by Dr. Elaine Costello.
South Carolina Department of Education, 1992. p. 25)
"In English we have specific words for specific
pronouns, e.g., he, she, it, they, etc. In American Sign Language (ASL),
the use of pronouns is accomplished by indexing or pointing. If the person
or other thing you want to refer to is present, you can point in the direction
of the referent. If the referent is not present, you can set up an imaginary
area for the referent toward which you can point throughout your communication.
That area remains constant for that particular referent and all conversational
partners use the same designated area when referring to that person or
thing. Remember this location can only be used after the referent is clearly
In Pidgin Sign English (PSE), two strategies for
pronoun representation are available to the signer: the English words can
be fingerspelled or the pointing strategy used in ASL can be employed.
Knowing the communication strengths and habits of your conversational partner
will help you decide which strategy to use.
If you elect to use pointing to designate present
or absent referents, remember that in ASL, it is a complex part of the
signing system. Basically, you are using a marker, a designated location,
to refer to a person or object."
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