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WORK: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for: work / labor / employment (and related concepts)


The sign for "work" is made by shaping both hands into "fist shapes" (the letter "s.")  With your palms facing downward, use your dominant fist to tap the wrist or the side of your non-dominant fist a few times.





Memory Aid:  Think of working with a hammer.



While the sign "WORK" can (in context) be used to mean "job" -- there is a more common way of signing "job."
See: JOB

The word "work" has meanings other than just "perform labor."  If you use work in sentences such as:  "That worked!" or "That works!" or "It didn't work!" -- what you really mean is "success," "succeed," or "satisfies a need."

If you mean work as in "succeed" then use the sign: SUCCESS
If you mean work as in "that works" -- as in that is satisfactory then use the sign for SATISFY
If you mean work as in "that didn't work" you could use the sign FAIL




You may see people doing variations of  the sign for work.
For example you might see this variation.
I don't recommend this variation.

WORK (not recommended version)

Why don't you recommend that version?

Because that version of the sign for work somewhat loosely resembles some of the characteristics of a sign that involves a three letter word that starts with "S" and ends with "X."

To be clear, the above version of "work" is "not" a dirty or intimate sign regardless of what various juvenile individuals will try to tell you
Just because two signs share the same basic location, orientation, and handshape doesn't mean that there are not additional significant differences in production (the way you sign it). 

People who have not had enough real world experience signing and interacting with the Deaf community (or who learn sign language out of books or from not-so-good internet sources) tend to miss small (yet important) differences between signs and then spread garbage information.

Don't be such a person.



Question: A student asks:
Is the sign WORK made with "S" hands or "A" hands?

If a local teacher or Deaf person feels one way or another about it do it their way when you are around them.

I recommend leaning toward the "S" handshape it is also common to see a modified "A" hand partway between an A and an S (particularly on the dominant hand, less so on the non-dominant hand which tends to be an "S").

Coarticulatory effects are real. In other words, signs done before and/or after a sign can and often do influence the handshape or other features of that sign.

("That girl will work tomorrow.")
Since GIRL and TOMORROW use variants of the "A" handshape it is likely the sign WORK (in that sentence) will be influenced and exhibit an "A" handshape.

If you signed: SOCIETY NORMS-(fs) CAN IMPACT WORK (social norms can impact work) ... -- the sign WORK would be more likely to use an "S" handshape.


[Keywords: Coarticulation, coarticulatory effects]



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