ASL Lessons | Bookstore | Library | ASL University Main ►
The myth of "STORE I GO"
Also see: "ASL Sentence Structure"
Lots of "ASL" teachers misuse the phrase "STORE I GO" as an example of typical ASL grammar.
The "Store I go" syntax is an unfortunate myth. In real life the vast majority of socially active native Deaf adult ASL signers in conversation with other fluent signers just sign "I GO STORE."
The myth has been told so often and for so long (often by Hearing teachers of ASL or even some young Deaf teachers that aren't all that great at ASL themselves) that many people (who haven't lived in the Deaf Community for a lifetime) believe it -- yet it simply isn't the case. While there are certainly times when that sentence should be topicalized -- such situations are comparatively rare to the extent that claiming otherwise is somewhat misleading.
We see it here: https://youtu.be/7mX8wOzCgFY?t=68 where the (Deaf, fluent) signer (Channing Brown) mentions "going into a store" (not "store, going into).
Here we see Zach Lotane (profoundly Deaf) signing "if I should go store" and not "store, I go." https://youtu.be/Wum6gOvzzG0?t=724
Example from two fluent signers: https://youtu.be/q1pBu5HUXqM?t=327 Jill is Hearing and her wife is Deaf
Note how she doesn't sign "store, can enter" -- instead she signs "can enter store." See Jill signing "I go store" again here:
You can see Jenna (Deaf) signing "have to go other store" not "other store, have to go to."
Here we see Rogan (Deaf) signing, "I go store" -- not "store I go." https://youtu.be/KM7WAmRn5AY?t=152
See Chey Clearbrook (Deaf) here explaining how she signs "I go store" in ASL:
Here we see Chey (Deaf) signing "every time I walk into a store..." -- not "store, I walk into."
Remember, I've suggested to you that you will indeed find examples of Deaf teaching the "STORE I GO" construction (spreading the myth) but I encourage you to also look for examples of those *same* individuals discussing going to the store in a natural setting when they are not thinking about it.
For example, Ryan (Deaf) has a video out where he actually teaches the myth (store, go), yet in another video when he isn't "thinking about it" he just naturally signs "go store" (contradicting himself).
Here it is at: https://youtu.be/E1-7f3E4UL8?t=722 Don't misunderstand my point. He seems like a really, really, nice guy. I'm just saying that even many Deaf have bought into the myth -- yet in everyday real life ASL signing when they aren't "thinking about it" that same person will sign "I go store." (Not, "Store, I go.").
The use of "STORE I GO" as an example of American Sign Language (ASL) sentence structure is not representative of the type of signing actually being done by socially active adult Deaf native signers.
It is a myth.
____ If you would like to do a deep dive on this topic, see: ASL Sentence Structure
____ Observation would suggest that often the individuals teaching this are learners of ASL as a second language and/or have NOT spent a lifetime of interacting with socially active adult Deaf native signers. This isn't to say that there aren't many excellent Hearing teachers of ASL. There are indeed many excellent ones. It is simply to suggest that a lifetime of interacting with Deaf and using ASL as your primary language leads people to use it in natural ways that flow and are very efficient (also know as "being fluent").
____ If you have not read this page yet please do so before debating or arguing the article titled: "The Myth of STORE I GO."
____ Prior to to using the term "pure ASL" please define the term and get several people to agree with you. If you are using a term to label an example but don't have a definition for the term you will be chasing your tail.
____ "STORE, I GO" is not "wrong." The myth isn't the right or wrongness of "STORE, I GO" but rather the "myth" is that "topicalization" = "topic comment" (it doesn't) and that "topicalization" is the main, top, or even most common grammar structure in ASL (it isn't). "STORE, I GO" is merely a lesser used form of ASL equivalent to "passive voice" in English. It has its uses but one such use should not be as the poster child for ASL.
If a newscaster uses the phrase, "In a telephone interview Friday, Sánchez said" once at the beginning of a sub-section of a story -- it is a great introduction.
If the newscaster used the phrase, "In that telephone interview Friday, Sánchez said" -- before every single sentence in the rest of the story it would be "over-use" of topicalization.
Topicalization is not wrong.
Overuse of topicalization is the problem.
The "myth" being sold to ASL students is that "topicalization" is the main grammar structure in ASL.
The challenge is that many ASL teachers don't realize there is a difference between "topic/comment" (which can include both SVO and OSV and various other sign-orders) and "topicalization."
Topicalization does not equal "topic comment."
Topicalization (passive voice) is "one" version of "topic/comment" -- so is "SVO."
* Want to help support ASL University? It's easy: DONATE (Thanks!)
* Another way to help is to buy something from Dr. Bill's "Bookstore."
* Want even more ASL resources? Visit the "ASL Training Center!" (Subscription Extension of ASLU)
* Also check out Dr. Bill's channel: www.youtube.com/billvicars
You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University ™
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com © Dr. William Vicars