Touch the tips of "bent hands" to your shoulder either once or
(Note: This sign doesn't need to be
done with "R" hands.)
Usage note: You will see this done with either a single or a double
I tend to see the "double" movement for the concept "responsibility."
As in "It is your responsibility."
I tend to use a single, longer contact when signing things such as, "You are
responsible for the result." (Memory tip, "The weight of this situation
is on your shoulders."
There is an initialized version of the sign "RESPONSIBLE" that is
fading out. It really isn't necessary to initialize this sign
for the meaning to be clear. I suppose it might be helpful to
know the initialized version if for some reason you need to
differentiate between "accountable" and "responsible." But
realistically the sign works fine with bent hands instead of "R"
RESPONSIBLE (initialized version) (no longer recommending this
OPTIONAL READING /
NOT REQUIRED FOR CLASS
In a message dated 2/7/2012 7:29:32 P.M. Pacific
Standard Time, Mian writes:
Why do you sign "responsible" with "R" hands? Isn't
that awfully English? I am an ASL 6 student, and
root out English whenever we can. It's drilled into
us. Lots of lexicalized words are losing their
"letter" handshape. I learned responsible with bent
=B hands...ummm maybe open bent B hands. Love your
site, use it ALL the time.
Eh? Perhaps you are looking at an old page?
If so, you need to update your page:
(Let me know if you and I are seeing the same thing. On that
page you'll note that I list the bent-hand version at the
top of the page and make a special point of mentioning that
it doesn't need "R" hands.)
Ahem, no, I don't think that "R" hands on "responsible" is "awfully"
I think that many years ago when I first posted the "R" version
it was a "non-issue."
I think several years ago it was a "tad"
I think a year or so ago it was "a bit too"
I think currently it is "significantly"
English, (and that significant portion of the rank and
file Deaf community still use the "R" hand version).
I think later this year it will be "annoyingly"
But I don't think we are going to hit "awfully"
English for at least another year.
You may be amused to learn that my wife, Belinda, has
um helpfully mentioned to me about that same page since last
year which is why I added the bent hand version at the top.
And, for what it is worth, as a result of your
nagging um, I mean thoughtfully pointing out
that "lots of lexicalized words are losing their letter
handshapes" (somewhat like regaining their virginity I would
suppose) I will probably soon be updating that page again
so as to properly
drill it into the heads of, um I mean
help people understand that ASL, like all living languages,
changes and morphs over time.
A student asks:
"What is the difference between using
the sign for “blame, accuse” to indicate “fault” versus the sign where the
hand drops down from “responsibility”? Do either of these signs represent
the concept of ‘having many faults’ (shortcomings)?
Thanks for your help!" - Linda
The "BLAME" sign can mean "accuse," "It is your/my/his/her/its fault"
or "blamed." This sign is directional thus it can indicate who or what is
"at fault" or who is being "accused" as well as who is doing the accusing.
The "FAULT" sign is non-directional and needs a sign such as "YOUR,"
"MY," or "HIS/HER" to indicate the object. This sign cannot be used directly
to indicate "accusation." You would need to sign, "SHE INFORM-me your-FAULT"
or "SHE TOLD-me YOUR FAULT."
Here's a view of the sign "FAULT" from an angle:
Also see: FAULT
"Shortcomings" would not use the sign "FAULT." Shortcomings would be
described with phrases such as:
"HE/SHE PROBLEMS MANY!"
"HE/SHE WEAK MANY!"
"HIS/HER CHARACTER? SO-SO."
Such phrases would be accompanied by non-manual markers (facial
expressions/body language) such as a "scrunched nose."
-- Dr. Bill
"Ok, so besides one sign being directional and one needing a possessive pronoun
both signs mean the same thing?"
No. Each sign has its own semantic range (a range of meanings). The semantic
ranges of the two signs do overlap, but not completely.
If you look the words up in an English dictionary you will note that the
word "fault" has about twice as many meanings as the word "blame."
The ASL sign FAULT only expresses two or three of the meanings of the word
The meanings of the word "blame" generally contain the concept of "to" as in
"to find fault," "to accuse," "to attribute."
I generally think of the ASL sign "FAULT" as being limited to meaning
"responsibility for some negative occurrence or situation."
The ASL sign BLAME carries a wider semantic range than the ASL sign "FAULT."
- Dr. Bill
You can learn
American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars