LearnSigns 011: Notating Signs

There are 5 elements to most signs. They are: shape, location, movement, orientation and non-manual elements. When you are learning new signs, especially when you don’t have a book or video to refer to, you need to write down these 5 aspects for the signs you are trying to learn. Of these 5 elements, the one that may not be used as often is the non-manual elements.

Here are the 5 elements along with how to describe the sign for GRANDMOTHER.

Shape

This is the shape of the hand when doing the sign. In many cases it is a shape that is similar to a letter or number. Or there are a few other shapes you will see often. Some of these are the mitten hand, claw, and bent V fingers. Use a description of the hand shape when notating signs.

For GRANDMOTHER the hand shape is just like the number 5.

Location

This is a short description of where the sign is placed or moved from and to. For GRANDMOTHER you can say that you place the 5-hand on the chin.

Movement

There will usually be some type of movement with a sign. If there is no movement, then you can say that the sign is placed at a location. Building on the two previous elements, you would say that GRANDMOTHER is done by placing the 5 hand on the chin and then pushing it forward about 6 inches.

Orientation

This is the orientation of the hand when making the sign. Often I will notate signs by writing down the orientation of the palm. Does it face up, down, left or right? For GRANDMOTHER it is easier to write down where the fingertips of the 5-hand are pointing. GRANDMOTHER is done with the fingertips pointed straight up.

Non-Manual Elements

This would be things like facial expression or body language. Not all signs will have this. Many words can be negated by shaking the head NO when doing the sign.

The word for GRANDMOTHER does not have any specific non-manual elements that need to be notated.

A full written description of GRANDMOTHER would be something like this: Place the 5-hand, with the fingers pointing up, on the chin. Then move, or push, the hand forward about 6 inches.

View the episode transcript.

This entry was posted in Podcast. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

5 Trackbacks

  • By LearnSigns 013: Nature on October 16, 2012 at 3:17 am

    […] Using the information you learned in lesson 11, write out the description for the word GRASS in your area. This is a word that changes quite a bit […]

  • By LearnSigns Lesson 15: House on November 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    […] in lesson number 11 I talked about something, the 5 different elements. Something you could do to write down signs is […]

  • By LearnSigns 30: Colors on April 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    […] of the things I asked viewers to do in this video is to write a description of the way the color gray is signed in your area in the comments […]

  • By New Book Coming Soon: Learn to Sign on April 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    […] is a much more detailed explanation on how to notate signs than I was able to give in the video. You will learn the 5 elements of each sign and how to clearly […]

  • By Sign Language is Not English | LearnSigns on April 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    […] are four components to every sign: location, palm orientation, hand shape, and movement. If you change just one component you can change the meaning of the […]

Leave a Reply