When learning a new language, sometimes we feel like a detective trying to solve the mystery of how a language works.
In written ASL, the digibet and locatives are the most commonly used marks. Knowing them will speed up your time in learning written ASL.
Now imagine you’re walking down the street, deep in ASL conversation with a friend. The two of you are moving at a distance between each other.
The signing space right in front of you is called neutral space. When you write, you write from your perspective as a signer. Many words stay within this space, but sometimes your handshapes bump your shoulder, chin, or other body part. When this happens, the body location distinguishes the meaning of your handshape. You have gone into locative space.
If you want to write down the ASL words that connect to your body, use special marks called locatives.
The movement lines in locative space do not follow your actual motions like in neutral space. They are written in the third-person perspective (also the perspective of your conversing friend).
Below are a few words that show how each mark is used.
(Note from Adrean: My special tool for digital writing broke, so for a few weeks I will be writing on note-lined paper. I have an “artistic” handwriting so if anything’s not clear, please do comment below or email me!)
Profile Locative Examples
Frontal Locative Examples
For in-depth information on movement space and locatives, check out How to Write American Sign Language!