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LAST: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "last / final / least"
LAST: last: "final" "end of a series" / least
Both hands in "i" handshapes. The left hand stays stationary. The right pinkie makes contact with the left pinkie .
Some people do this sign using an "index finger" on the dominant and a pinkie on the non-dominant hand.
Notice how the left hand doesn't move:
Note: This sign is also sometimes used to mean "least" but instead you should probably use the sign "minimum" to mean "least.
Note: The sign LAST isn't used in such concepts as "last year, last week, and/or last month." Those concepts incorporate some aspect of the sign "PAST" (over the shoulder) to indicate a previous year, week, or month.
Also see: CONTINUE
The sign "continue" would be used for sentences like, "We don't have much left. We need to conserve what we have so we can make it last."
Question:in English, people use "last" to mean "previous" (as in, "I was on vacation last week" or "The last time I played tennis was years ago!") and also to mean "final" (as in, "Who wants the last donut?" or "This is the last time I drive you to the airport!"); does the sign LAST have both meanings in ASL too, or is there a distinction?
There is a distinction. The sign LAST in ASL doesn't mean "previously."
If you mean "last" as in the previous time you did something you can generally use the sign PAST.
If it is important that you specify the most recent time you did something then use the signs MOST and RECENT. Or drop the sign MOST and inflect the sign RECENT with a shoulder raise (referred to as a "cs" or "cheek to shoulder" marker which means "very" when paired with "recent" -- as in very recent.
Again though it is fairly common just to sign "PAST TIME" to mean "last time" (as in previously).
Tip: Does that mean you will "never" see a Deaf person sign "LAST TIME" to mean "the previous time?" -- You will see all kinds of signing done by people in the Deaf Community. If you see a Deaf person use LAST to mean "the most recent previous time" -- then just think to yourself, "Gee, there's a vote for that particular usage. Hmmm, I think I'll stick with using PAST to mean "previously" unless I see a whole lot more votes by skilled ASL signers."
Also keep in mind that the concept of "last" is often incorporated into the movement, position, orientation, and hand shape changes of certain signs.
I'll post some examples below.
-LAST WEEK / past week
-LAST TIME / the final time
-MONTH PAST / last month / a month ago / the previous month
-PAST MONTH / last month / the previous month / a month ago
-last-YEAR / this past year
-last-YEAR [S-1 version] / a year ago / one year ago / past year
-last-WEEK SUNDAY / a week ago Sunday / Sunday of last week
Notes: Also see: LAST-YEAR (2)
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