To do the sign "FOR," touch your forehead and swing the tip of your finger
There is a sign known as "FOR-FOR."
The sign "FOR-FOR"
is the same as "FOR" except that you use a double motion and you include a "wh?" facial expression.
is interpreted as "What for?" or
Sample sentence: "Why are you taking ASL?" = "TAKE-up ASL FOR-FOR?"
Notes and optional reading:
In a message dated 3/20/2011 10:53:33 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Chrissunny
Hi, I have a quick question for you - Given the sentence "Tomorrow I am
cooking for my friends" would you include the "for" in ASL translation?
The answer is, "It depends."
What constitutes an "appropriate" translation in ASL depends greatly on the
Let me give you an example in English.
On Saturday, March 19th 2011 Jon Jones, a mixed martial arts competitor
asked his coaches:
"We going to catch this guy?"
The context in which the phase was said was important.
Jones and his coaches had just been dropped off at a park in Paterson New
Jersey when they heard screaming nearby and saw a perp running away after
apparently having smashed a windshield and stolen a GPS. Jones and his
coaches were chasing after the perp when Jones asked, 'What do we do? We
going to catch this guy?"
He did not ask, "Are we going to catch this guy?" Jones dropped the
Was it appropriate for Jones to drop the word "are" in his question?
Even without hearing the "state of being" verb "are" -- Jones' coaches
understood perfectly what he meant. To have added the word "are" would
have taken extra time and effort and contributed little or nothing to the
effectiveness of his communication.
Would Jones' college English teacher have approved? I reckon if it was
her GPS system that got boosted she wouldn't have cared spit about the
missing "be verb" as long as she got back her missing equipment, (and got
reimbursed for the windshield).
Ah yes, but after the hubbub died down and the windshield was replaced and
it came time to correct Jones's English paper that same instructor might
just whip out her red pen and mark an "X" next to that exact same sentence
for lack of an "are."
Now back to your announcement of your culinary activities. In all
likelihood the sentence "Tomorrow I'm cooking for my friends" would never
need to be translated "in real life." Seriously. "Necessary
translation" is a process whereby someone is saying something in one
language and someone else needs to understand what it means, and thus
a third person (or robot, or program) translates it. If two Deaf
were chatting in ASL and one wanted to tell the other "Tomorrow I'm cooking
for my friends" it is quite likely he/she would sign: TOMORROW, FRIEND COME,
I COOK. (Don't get me started on how it is we know "FRIEND" is plural
and not singular in this situation. It is a long story and you don't tip
Is that the "only" way to sign "Tomorrow I'm cooking for my friends?" Of
You could also sign, "TOMORROW I COOK. WHY?-(rhetorical, eyebrows up),
Also more likely than not, such a phrase would show up in real life as part
of a two-way conversation wherein someone asked you why you "bought so much
food?" You could certainly reply, TOMORROW I COOK MY FRIEND, and it would be
obvious that you were not cooking your friends but that you
were cooking for your friends.
If however you were "translating" a children's book about "trolls" and
"giants" and you signed "TOMORROW I COOK MY FRIEND" then it might very well
be understood to mean that tomorrow you were indeed going to practice a bit
The fact is "cook for" is a "Hearing" phrase. To "cook for" means so much
more than what it seems on the surface. Really.
Think about it. "Tomorrow I am cooking for my friends," is saying
something much more than simply stating that you will be heating up a can of
beans that your friends will just happen to eat.
Thus the English phrase, "Tomorrow I am cooking for my friends" really means
something more along the lines of, "I'm experiencing quite a bit of
excitement and stress because tomorrow an important event is happening. My
friends are coming over to my place, (which I've got sooo much to do to get
cleaned up and ready) and they will be sampling, judging, and making mental
notes regarding my creativity, sensibility, frugality, and talent in regard
to food, (as well as table setting). I'm doing this in hopes of creating a
social dynamic amongst these people that will result in their having a good
time, deepening their friendships, and thinking well of me."
Where does all that extra meaning "go" when we translate it from English to
ASL? Most of the time it goes out the window. But such meaning
could be included easily enough by inflecting your signs. An extra
hold here, a bit more movement there, a lot more facial expression.
The problem we run into is when a teacher gives a student an "assignment" to
translate a sentence devoid of context. Then later the teacher or
(more likely the) student emails me and asks me what is right.
The only sane answer in most situation is, "it depends."
For what it is worth, (and for a bit of fun), earlier today I asked a fifth
generation Coda interpreter how he would sign "Tomorrow I am cooking for
friends" and I also asked a trilingual interpreter (ASL/Spanish/English).
They both used the sign "FOR" in their initial answers. Of course I
didn't tell them the nature of my question or that I was questioning the use
of the word "FOR." After they showed me their initial gut response, I then
mentioned they question was whether or not they needed the word "FOR" in the
sentence. Of course both of them came up with alternate ways to sign the
sentence. But does having some other "right" way, make the use of (or lack
of the use of) the sign "FOR" wrong? No. It just means that there is more
than one right way to sign certain things and what that right way is will
depend on context.
For example, there is a certain context that strongly influences the
"rightness" of a sign and that is the context of being a student in a
classroom. Remember this: Your current ASL teacher is "right" for 15
weeks. If you don't think so, just check your grade at the end of the
Dear Dr. Bill,
Hi. I know religions aren't all the same signs but several times I have
watched interpreters online (I can't understand but want to try.) and I see
them sign 'instead of' when the word voiced is 'for'. Other times they use
the sign 'for' that is on the forehead.
- Sara C.
The INSTEAD-of sign can be thought of as
meaning "in our stead" or "in place of us."
The idea being that when someone says "Jesus died for us" it really means
that he died "in our stead" or instead of us.
You could choose to sign "FOR" in that sentence and it would still make
sense but by using INSTEAD in that sentence it conveys a more specific (and
- Dr. Bill
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