ASL University ►

American Sign Language: "Classifier: B"

When we use the phrase "classifier B" what we are talking about is the fact that we can use "flat hands" (which are somewhat like the fingerspelled letter "B") to represent things that can generally be categorized as (or placed in the "class" of) being "flat."  For example, things like:  paper, surfaces, tables, countertops, shelves, etc.

The signs for WALL, DOOR, and/or SHELF (and other similar signs) almost certainly started out as descriptions of what the things looked like (the shape, placement, or usage).  Then over time the movements became widespread, condensed, and so common that a person could do the sign "SHELF" and it would be recognized instantly by other signers.

For example, h
ere is the sign for SHELF (or if done a little lower it means FLOOR).

If you were use those flat handshapes to do that sign bigger, smaller, at an angle, multiple times, or modify it in some other way to depict (show) additional details about the characteristics of the shelf -- you would be using a classifier "B."  (Note: Some people call classifiers "depictive verbs.").

CL-B: "Something large (and relatively flat) moving forward"

The above sign could be used to show the forward movement of a train, trolley, barge, battleship, a drag-racer, etc.


Also see: WALL

If you do the sign for WALL it is just a "sign" (a lexicalized classifier actually). 
However, if you modify the sign for WALL to show the characteristics of your wall (big, curved, slanted, etc.) the sign becomes a classifier and is more specific than just a sign for "wall." 

(Sure, a classifier is still a sign but it is a special type of sign .  Sort of like a "mom" is still a female, but a more specific type of female.)


Also see: DOOR

You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


back.gif (1674 bytes)
American Sign Language University ASL resources by Dr. William Vicars