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American Sign Language: "very"

There is indeed a sign for the concept of "VERY."  It looks like the sign "BIG" but is done with "V" handshapes.

I suggest however that you not use the "VERY" sign and instead focus on inflecting your signs to include the meaning of "very" into your existing sign or set of signs.

For example, suppose our mutual friend got sunburned badly and I wanted to tell you about it, I might wish to express the concept:

"His face was very red."

In that sentence the word "very" is an adverb.  The word "red" is an adjective.
In ASL I'd use the signs:  "HIS FACE RED."  To indicate the concept of "very red" I would "inflect" (change the way I signed) the concept "red" in the following ways:

1.  I'd use an intense facial expression

2.  I'd hold the initial handshape in starting location for a fraction of an instant longer before starting the movement.

3.  I'd do a larger downward movement.

4. I'd hold the ending handshape in the ending location for a fraction of an instant longer than normal.

5. At the beginning of the sign I'd tilt my head back slightly and then as I did the sign I'd nod my head using a single, short, quick movement.

6. My elbow would stick slightly farther out to the side at the beginning of the sign and bring the elbow down sharply during the sign.

Those six modifications (inflections) to the sign "RED" would change the sign to mean "very-RED." 
Those six modifications actually created the adverb "very."

Most verbs and many other signs can be inflected in such a way as to eliminate for need for a separate sign for "very."


An ASL Instructor (Deaf/over 30 years teaching experience) writes:
"I have a question about expressing the concept of 'very'. . .
Is it also correct, in certain situations, to convey the concept of 'very' by using the sign for: really; truly (as signed with a dominant index finger held in front of the nose; palm faces the non-dominant side of body and finger points up; move hand in one, small upward-forward arc)?
For example, to express that someone is 'very polite,' would it be correct to sign: truly, polite?
In almost all instances I use the methods you described on your 'very' page but I do occasionally use the 'truly/really' sign as well. Or I use it in conjunction with the methods you described."

Dear _____ (Name removed to protect the person's privacy.)
 Yes, certainly, the sign for TRUE is often used to express the concept of "very" in ASL.
 Another sign in this category is the TERRIBLE/awful/awesome sign.  It is sometimes used to mean "extremely" or "exceedingly."  As in "MOVIE TERRIBLE-[extremely] GOOD!"
Also the "too-MUCH" sign (the one that uses bent hands and can mean "over" or "more than") can mean "very" in situations where English might use "overly."
Depending on context, the CHAMP sign can mean "very."
Any other similar signs dome to mind?  
 - Dr. Bill

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