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American Sign Language: "clockwise"


A student emailed me the following question:

Hi, I check out your site from time to time—I love it. But something is killing me. Often in various books or websites on ASL I see the word “clockwise.” This is so confusing, because I view clockwise from Top, moving right… Like the face of a clock. However, many books will say clockwise to indicate a left or right movement (I’m not sure why they just don’t say right or left). This is made more confusing by the fact the arrows in the book are not always the same! So, in generally, when a book says clockwise should I assume it mean to the right?

Response:
ASL descriptions should be given from the viewpoint of the signer. Thus if a description says to move "clockwise" it should mean that the signer's hand (or hands) move in a circle to the signer's right and down then left and back up. Thus to the viewer (the person watching the sign) the movement would appear counter-clockwise.

 



 

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