ASL Videos
July 25, 2007 7:11 PM   Subscribe

American Sign Language Flash Video Dictionary is a high quality, free dictionary with a huge number of signs. It includes specialized dictionaries of religious signs, conversational phrases, and ASL for babies. Unfortunately it's not possible to link to specific signs, but if you look inside you'll find words from "Abbreviate" to "Zoom" and phrases such as "I cannot fasten my belt," "has he been neutered?" "I already took a bath," "are you married?" and "I need a better firewall."
posted by alms (17 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
The fact that this has a volume control is hilarious.
posted by dhammond at 7:38 PM on July 25, 2007

Cool, thanks - our child has learned several signs already and is in the process of learning more so this really helps!
posted by bdragon at 7:44 PM on July 25, 2007

The sign for "grow" reminded me a little of a scene from Chasing Amy.
posted by peeedro at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2007

Thank you for posting this. We have new neighbors who have a deaf daughter who uses sign language.
posted by amyms at 8:10 PM on July 25, 2007

How extraordinarily well done. Thank you so much for this link.
posted by spitbull at 8:30 PM on July 25, 2007

Aah, on preview, what spitbull and the others said Nthed.

I have taught myself ASL over the years. Not very well, but, as a waiter, well enough to understand a nut allergy or a "dressing on the side" issue.

I have read that it is okay (except when giving directions) to mirror sign language if one is left handed. I do this seemingly just fine. I use ASL pretty rarely, though I am now teaching it to a four year old (just for fun-ducation???), and having her mirror me. Am I going to mess this up? I'm wondering- any ASL masters out there want to chime in?

Sorry to piggyback your post. Flag it if it's not okay. Thanks!
posted by metasav at 8:34 PM on July 25, 2007

metasav: "reversed" signs are fine. Some lefties go righty when they sign, but most reverse (so rather than "left" and "right", a lot of texts will talk about the dominant and non-dominant hand/side). I've never seen it cause problems. Well, in my ASL class taught by a lefty, it gets confusing now and then.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:27 PM on July 25, 2007

Excellent. I'm that much closer to seducing Marlee Matlin.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:40 PM on July 25, 2007

But can you say "my hovercraft is full of eels"?
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:56 PM on July 25, 2007

I'm particularly fond of the sign for "parasite"...which I just described to the mister as "tear the sucking alien off your face and display it on the palm of your hand."
posted by squasha at 2:39 AM on July 26, 2007

Signing is not just hand movements - everything is involved. Check out the facial expression for

Conversational Phrases>Animals>"Does it bite?"
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 3:15 AM on July 26, 2007

"Hovercraft" and "eel" are probably both things you would fingerspell. There are likely technical signs that could be used, but unless you were talking to a nautical engineer or a marine biologist, you would probably get blank stares for using them.

It should be noted that while this site is technically accurate, in practical everyday use the signs you see will be much less distinct, involve smaller movements, and be a lot faster. This site is good for learning, but don't expect sign "in the wild" to look like this. The difference is sort of like how an English speaker slows down and speaks very clearly when addressing a toddler. ASL has a lot of shortcuts, and what is acceptable varies quite a bit between regions. Interestingly enough, if you sign like this (in general), the people you sign with will either slow down to your speed or decide that you just aren't ready to communicate with them.
posted by leapfrog at 6:17 AM on July 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Leapfrog: I'm a non-native signer, and still a student, but my receptive signing is fairly decent. I agree that you'd likely fingerspell "eel", but I wouldn't be surprised to see it signed as WATER SNAKE, or something like that with classifiers. Hovercraft might be fingerspelled as well, but I'd really expect to see it negotiated - that is, described, then assigned either a pronoun, or a 'temporary sign' for the duration of the conversation.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:57 AM on July 26, 2007

Evidently, the gesture for "China" was once something that indicated "slanted eyes", but the deaf community caught a bit of flak for that and changed it to this, which puzzled me at first. Then I learned it was a stylized representation of typical Chinese clothing.
posted by RavinDave at 10:09 AM on July 26, 2007

Spaceman Spiff: If you and I were to have an ASL conversation about eels and hovercrafts, we would probably work out some temporary signs, qualify other words (like SNAKE FISH) or just use spatial reference (indicating your hovercraft as a pronoun), since no one really wants to fingerspell the same things over and over again.
If, on the other hand, if a hearing English-speaker asked me to translate "My hovercraft is full of eels" with no context, as a pure interjection or non-sequitur, and no intent to actually discuss hovercrafts or eels, fingerspelling (followed by an explanatory "it's a joke from the internet" in response to the nearly guaranteed "huh?)" would get the point across.
I'm not a native signer either, and I acknowledge I am no authority on the subject. If it were interesting enough to warrant further discussion, I would ask my friend the professional ASL interpreter, but as it is we have clearly beaten this one into the ground.
posted by leapfrog at 11:29 AM on July 26, 2007

Here's a fascinating (and short) piece about Chinese Sign Language. Like many people, I had just assumed it was all pretty much the same as ASL with perhaps a few colloquial regionalisms. And extra moment's though is sufficient to realize that it wouldn't be.
posted by RavinDave at 11:51 AM on July 26, 2007

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