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15 Also see: Inflection
Trenton asks: So right now I am trying to learn adjective
placement so feed back would be lovely. Suppose I wanted to sign "I
painted my car red yesterday." Would I sign is *yesterday car red I
Paul replies: It probably depends on the context. If you were
standing in front of multiple cars, you could use it your way. It seems
to me like you are saying "yesterday I painted the red car," but that
doesn't tell anyone whether you just touched up the paint, or if you
painted it a new color, or what that new color was. I'd use "yesterday
car I finish paint red"
More likely, I would say "yesterday I finish paint my car" and then add
"change color red" or "color red now," but my grammar is just the worst,
and I have very lenient Deaf friends when it comes to those things. I'd
not use that for an ASL class.
Trenton: So what I'm getting is the adjective could really
be moved around the sentence depending on how you really want it to mean
Maggie Bee writes: You can sign active or passive, so you can
move the adjective and verb, you are correct to start with the time.
Without context, I would probably sign this as 'yesterday my car I
painted red." I would only mention that I finished yesterday
if painting the car was an ongoing project that took me more than a day.
If so, I would sign it as 'yesterday my car paint red i finish'
Bill Vicars writes: Paul and Maggie, your comments are great!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
A couple more thoughts regarding how to sign "I painted my car red
Since the sign YESTERDAY is used to establish the tense of the sentence
we don't need the sign FINISH as a tense marker.
Thus we can sign: "YESTERDAY I/ME PAINT MY CAR RED.
In the above example we are using "I/ME" as the topic of the sentence
and "paint my car red" as the comment.
This "TIME/TOPIC/COMMENT" structure is being produced as: T/S/V/O/Adj:
If you and I had previously discussed my car I could topicalize the
sentence by signing:
MY CAR?! [Whereupon you (my conversation partner) would show a facial
expression that indicated knowing the car to which I"m referring. I
would then continue my statement.] YESTERDAY, I PAINT RED.
If you and I were friends and I had talked multiple times about painting
my old car red but had never gotten around to it the sentence would
probably go like this:
"MY CAR? YESTERDAY I PAINT RED, FINISH!!!"
Thus "FINISH" is being used as an "aspect" marker for emphasis -- and
comes at the end of the sentence. (This approach is explained in the
text: "Linguistics of American Sign Language" (Vali, Lucas, and others).
Again, I very much like Paul and Maggie's answers and how Maggie's
pointed out that if the project had been an "ongoing" one it would
influence our choice to include the sign FINISH (or not) and if so it
would be at the end. I like how Paul pointed out that we would only put
"RED" next to the sign CAR if we were in a circumstance such as trying
to identify a red car.
- Dr. Bill
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