Notes: One of my associates
insists that the sign ADDRESS should always be done with a double movement to mean
"address" otherwise it will mean "live." Her husband however isn't
convinced. Neither am I. But, if you ever take her class make sure
to do it her way (using a double movement) since she will be giving the grade.
Technically, she has a good point. Nouns of noun/verb pairs (like
ADDRESS-noun & LIVE-verb) do tend to use a
double movement. On the other hand, high speed signing often drops repetitive
movement. For example, the combination of signs "EMAIL ADDRESS" almost
always drops the "double movement" of the sign ADDRESS.
If you do the sign ADDRESS in isolation you tend to use a double movement..
This sign really isn't worth arguing over since you can see expert signers doing it either way.
Note: Some people do the sign "LIVE" using "L" handshapes on both hands (This is
"initialization"). Again, not worth arguing about. But if your instructor or
Deaf friend likes it a certain way, do it that way.
LIVE / ADDRESS / / LIFE / SURVIVE:
If you want to know where someone lives currently, you could sign, "YOU
ADDRESS WHERE?" (Which can be interpreted as, "You live where?" or
"Where to you live?"
Note: The sign "ADDRESS" can be used to mean
several other concepts like: live, life, and survive.
It is similar to the "live" sign, except instead of using
"L" hands it uses "A" hands. The "A"
handshape version of this sign can actually be used to mean "live"
as in "Where do you live" = "YOU ADDRESS WHERE?"
Let me say that again. You can use the sign "ADDRESS" to mean either
"address," "live," "alive," or even "survive."
You might see people sign "ADDRESS" to mean "alive." As
in, "HE STILL LIVE?" (Meaning, "Is he still alive?") Or you could use the "LIVE" sign for that.
Note: In an "ASL class" if you need to make a distinction between ADDRESS and LIVE treat this
sign as a noun/verb pair and sign:
ADDRESS: double movement (smaller movement done twice)
LIVE: single movement (larger movement done once).
This version of "live" is
"initialized" with an "L." It cannot be used to mean "address."
Use a single movement, straight up.
Question: A student asks: "How would u sign "life"?
Is it the same
thing as "live"?"
You could sign "life" the same as the initialized form of LIVE but if you
plan on taking an ASL test any time soon I recommend you simply do the
version of the sign that uses "A" handshapes. That one sign can mean:
address / live / life / survive.
OPTIONAL DISCUSSION / no need to read
Dear Dr. Bill,
I am presently taking an ASL class (this time at a Community College with
Gallaudet professors, reason why going there, for them as teachers!) and am
having some problems with the WAY they are teaching this course. I've taken
private lessons from a Gallaudet alumni who teaches in small groups, is a
storyteller, signs BEAUTIFULLY (OMG!), and in 2002 was taking this SAME
EXACT course (at the same college, but with a VERY different book - and
teacher)...anyway...in one of your lessons you state that it is okay to
sign, "WHERE FROM YOU?"
I have always been taught that in ASL the English question:" Where are you
from?" would be translated into ASL as:
"You from where you?" as opposed to "Where from you?"
I can deal with the new signs and different meanings for the same sign, but
I'm getting so confused due to learning from so many different people, all
whom seem to have different ideas of how to TEACH sign, all are Native ASL
users, and they are also using different ways of forming "sentence"
structure, which is the MOST confusing to me.
-- Name on file
In general in ASL we do tend to put "wh" type signs (who, what, when, where,
why, & how) at the end of question sentences.
To understand why we do this it helps to realize that it feels strange
and/or uncomfortable to hold a WH facial expression (furrowed eyebrows) for
the duration of a medium length or longer sentence (four signs or more).
So we tend to move the WH question to the end.
The facial expressions we use in ASL to form questions are the equivalent of
how Hearing people raise the tone of their voice.
Here is the thing to understand though, when Hearing people ask
questions, they raise the tone of their voice throughout the whole question.
They do this because the meaning of this very short utterance is actually
made more clear by using the raised tone of voice throughout the whole
sentence (since the duration is so short). Try it yourself. Say "Are you
GOING?" and only emphasize the last word. Then say it again and emphasize
all three words, "ARE YOU GOING?"
You will probably think that it feels "weird" to try to say "Are you"
(normal voice) and then switch over to "GOING?" (high tone) for just the
last word. It feels "better" to just say all three words in high tone since
the sentence is so short. It is more smooth and less jarring to use one tone
for a short sentence than to try to cram two different tones into a three
The same thing applies to real life signed conversations-short 3-sign
questions tend to use the WH question at the beginning of the sentence since
it becomes more smooth and "economical" to form one facial expression for a
three-sign sentence using a non-topicalized sentence structure than it is to
form two different facial expressions for a 3-sign sentence using a
topicalized sentence structure.
Many ASL teachers (even the really "good ones" that teach at prestigious
universities) and who sign "really well" have pre-conceived notions and/or
biases that prevent them from wrapping their minds around this principle.
p.s. Now, how do advanced signers really ask where someone is from?
don't even use the word "WHERE." HA! They just sign "FROM YOU?" while
using furrowed eyebrows! The "where" concept can be expressed by the furrowed
eyebrows without needing a separate sign.
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