(Click on the photo for a larger image)
The American alphabet produced thru 26 hand positions. Note that a number of hand shapes—those for C, O, L for instance—resemble the written letters they represent. And in a few cases—J and Z—the hand is moved to trace the shape of the letter in the air. This makes the alphabet relatively easy to master, although proficiency of fingerspelling takes practice.
The alphabet is used to communicate names, places, and ideas for which there are no officially recognized signs. Thus, it is an important complement to Amer S.L.
Obviously, it’s neither comfortable nor convenient to f.s. every word of every conversation. A firm grasp of the manual alphabet is esp. important when you’re new to s.l., before you have built up an extensive vocabulary of signs. In time, as you learn more signs, you’ll find that you need to rely less and less on f.s. to communicate.
What makes a sign unique? Just as an English word is made of letters, each sign is composed of several elements that must be combined in a very precise way for that sign to be understood. components of signs are handshape, movement, palm orientation and location. And of course, facial expression and body language must be incorporated for more effective signing.
When only one hand is used to form a particular sign, keep the other hand in a relaxed position—usually resting comfortably on your lower torso—so that it is ready to instantly get involved in subsequent two-handed signs.
TIPS on your New Habits
- COMFORTABLE POSITION IN FRONT OF YOUR SHOULDER, WITH THE PALM FACING FORWARD AT A SLIGHT ANGLE.
- HOLD YOUR HAND CLOSE ENOUGH TO YOUR MOUTH THAT YOUR LIPS CAN BE READ ALONG WITH THE FINGERSPELLING.
- YOUR GOAL-ARTICULATION, NOT SPEED.
- SPELL THE WORDS AT A COMFORTABLE RATE, ALLOWING A SLIGHT PAUSE BETWEEN WORDS. DO NOT DROP THE HAND BETWEEN WORDS.
- SPEAK/MOUTH EACH WORD AS YOU BEGIN TO FINGERSPELL IT.
- WHEN READING FINGERSPELLING, READ THE WORD IN SYLLABLES.
- TRY OUT WORDS WITH DOUBLE LETTERS
ABBREVIATIONS- SMALL CLOCKWISE CIRCLE AS YOU SIGN EACH LETTER.
- D vs F
- G vs Q
- K vs P
- Angle of the letter (don’t strain your wrist as you sign; it should be comfortable)
Be conscious of proper lighting & wear solid clothing
Don’t strain your hand or be too lax on forming the letters
It’s okay to start over to clarify
Start evaluating other’s styles & hand shapes
Make a few acquaintances who sign
Practice as often as you can (i.e. in the car)
PRACTICE with these:
- LEFT-HANDED SPELLERS
- SEEING THE WORD THROUGH SHAPES
- QUIZ SELF ON OTHER’S SPELLING SKILLS
See what your receptive skills are at: http://asl.ms/