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Also see: Inflection
I have a quick question. I was discussing with my friends about ASL
grammar, she was upset with how I signed when is your birthday.
I signed: WHEN YOUR BIRTHDAY WHEN
She said it should have been according to OSV rule: WHEN BIRTHDAY YOUR
I told her that didn't make sense, is there a grammar page dealing with
OSV rule on your website? I have been looking all over and I must be
blind if I missed it.
--Charles "CJ" Johnson--
No need to mess around -- bring out the big gun:
Linguistics of American Sign Language: An Introduction (5th edition)
(See page 134).
According to the good doctors at Gallaudet (and elsewhere) the
typical signing order for sentences (that have objects) is actually SVO.
(I kid you not.)
Sure, we "topicalize" things from time to time (OSV), but it is
for emphasis and or to introduce a new topic into the conversation while
seeking to determine the conversation partner's familiarity with that
topic so as to reduce the amount of back-story we need to produce.
"OSV" is a tool in your box. That's all. And it isn't meant to be the
"most" used tool eitther.
Also, I'll paste below a screen capture of the relevant paragraph from
the LASL books (hat tip to "Google Books").
Personally I would just sign YOU BIRTHDAY WHEN? (Which could be thought
of as meaning: "You experience a birthday when?") [Sort of like YOU
NAME WHAT? means "You are called what?" or You are named what?], or you
could sign YOUR BIRTHDAY WHEN? (I probably even have that on my
I personally wouldn't use WHEN twice in that sentence (as you did in
Putting a "WH" question at the end is typical of medium or longer
Short little sentences often don't need to. For example "WHO GO?" -- for
"Who is going?" I'd never (freaking never) sign "GO WHO?"
- Dr. Bill
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