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ASL: "instrument"


There is no specific sign for "instrument."  (Or at least there is no widely used ASL sign for "instrument.)

This is particularly true for the concept of "a musical instrument."  With a little bit of thought, most people might realize why the Deaf don't have an established sign for "musical instrument."  (Wink.)

If musical instruments were (traditionally) an important part of our culture then certainly we would have a widely established sign for it. But alas, there is no common sign for "musical instrument."

Four main approaches:
1.  Fingerspell I-N-S-T-R-U-M-E-N-T
2.  sign:  MUSIC + THINGS
3.  sign:  VIOLIN, PIANO, DRUM, SO-FORTH (etc.)
4.  Make up some funky initialized sign like doing THING with an "i" handshape.  (Not recommended.)

The sign for most musical instruments is to do a small mime of that instrument. 
 


TOOL:
If you mean "instrument as in a "tool" then fingerspell the word "tool"
 
 


THING:
If you mean "instrument" as in a general object that you can't or don't want to give a specific name to you can use the sign THING.
 


Depiction:
If you mean "instrument" and the instrument is something which you can depict by doing an abbreviated mime showing the size, shape, or usage of the instrument -- go ahead and mime it (using as efficient of a mime as you can while still effectively and clearly getting your point across). Some people refer to this sort of signing as using "instrument classifiers" and or simply "depictive signing.
 


Spell:
If the instrument to which you are referring has a common or well-known name that is likely to be understood by your audience and you are able to spell it faster than you might be able to mime or describe it then go ahead and fingerspell the specific instrument to which you are referring. Watch your conversation partner in case they actually know a specific sign because if so they are likely to show it to you and you'll be able to increase your vocabulary.  Lucky you! (Consider offering them chocolate and/or slipping a dollar or two into their ASL book or under their keyboard when they aren't looking.)
 



 

Notes:  The above page (on the ASL sign for "instrument") started off as this bit of correspondence:
 

In a message dated 11/27/2006 10:09:58 AM Pacific Standard Time, krishelfer@ writes:
Dr. Vicars,
My name is Kris _______, I am a Behavioral Therapist at the Rochester Center for Autism.  At the Center we provide the children with Music Therapy, in which, we would like to incorporate more signs into.  I was wondering if there is a more complete list of music based signs out there on the web/in a book.  The specific signs I am looking for are
Drum
Instrument
Tambourine
Thank you so much for your help! 
Thanks again!
Kris _______
Lead Behavior Therapist
Rochester Center for Autism
Rochester, Minnesota
Kris,
There is no specific sign for "instrument."
With a little bit of thought, most people might realize why the Deaf don't have an established sign for "musical instrument."  Heh.
If musical instruments were an important part of our culture then certainly we would have a widely established sign for it. But alas, there is no common sign for "musical instrument."
Four main approaches:
1.  Fingerspell I-N-S-T-R-U-M-E-N-T
2.  sign:  MUSIC + THINGS
3.  sign:  VIOLIN, PIANO, DRUM, SO-FORTH (etc.)
4.  Make up some funky initialized sign like doing THING with an "i" handshape.  (Not recommended.)

The sign for most musical instruments is to do a small mime of that instrument. 
Dr. Bill

 




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