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Mississippi:  The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "Mississippi"

How do you sign Mississippi?

This came up as a small mention in a previous thread but is seriously worth emphasizing in its own thread.

Let's take a look at how the concept of Mississippi is being expressed by a Deaf adult skilled signer who is a professional (as in money is being earned due to advertising revenue) host of a Deaf news service in ASL that covers trending stories and Deaf topics.

At the 3:18 mark of the Jun 24, 2022 newscast
we see Alex sign the concept of "Mississippi" via fingerspelling.

Some fun things about the spelling of Mississippi done by Alex Abenchuchan in that video at the 3:18 mark:

1. He does the letter "M" by simply bending (but not folding and tucking) all four fingers (not just 3 fingers) to lay over the thumb. This is an example of how, in real life signing, the letter M is often very different from how it appears on manual alphabet charts and how over a thousand ASL teachers teach it to their ASL 1 classes each semester. (Easy math. There are 50 states in the United States It is not unreasonable to assume there are over 20 ASL teachers on average per state. 50 x 20 = 1,000).

2. He cuts the word Mississippi from 11 letters to 7 letters.

3. The P is done at a position or orientation that is halfway between a citation P and a citation K.
That is an example of how the position of the letter "P" as signed in real life is often significantly different from how it appears on manual alphabet charts and is taught by over a thousand ASL teachers each semester.

4. He spells the word generally in the same place but moves slightly to the outside (his right) on the double S while doing a reforming of the S. (So it isn't one or the other: slide or reform -- but rather it is a combination of the two.)
That is an example of how the real life choice between reforming and / or sliding of a double letter (as taught by hundreds or more teachers each semester) really isn't an either / or choice (as presented by the teachers) but rather is sometimes combined.

The point here is that ASL teachers often teach "citation" ASL. An idealistic / fantasy version of ASL handshapes, sign choices, and (supposed) grammar -- that often conflicts with or is not representational of how the vast majority of everyday Deaf people communicate in real life.

But hey, it is good to have dreams, goals, and ideals. Make sure to mark your students wrong when they sign more like their Deaf friends or coworkers than what you see in your ASL book or manual alphabet charts. Of course, to know the difference -- you need to personally have Deaf friends and/or coworkers. Hmmmm.
I love you all. The above post is absolutely not aimed at any one individual. I'm an ASL instructor and these things are on my mind and apply to me as well.

Also, HT (hat tip) to Alex Abenchucan of the Daily Moth and the rest of the Daily Moth team (and all of the other Deaf newscasters out there) who are putting in the sweat, guts, and work while exposing themselves to this sort of scrutiny. Bravo! -- Just Bravo!





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