7 Ways to Write “Thanksgiving”

Here at ASLwrite we want to thank our readers for their enthusiasm and positive energy in writing ASL. We appreciate having the privilege of signing and want to continue supporting American Sign Language through writing. If there’s anything we can do to encourage you as you learn, please do email Adrean at info@aslwrite.com.

The ASL word “Thanksgiving” has many variations. We’ve written 7 of them here.

HTGwords 300x147 7 Ways to Write Thanksgiving

(Click for larger image.)

Some of them have the “G/Q” handshape (written digit) that denotes a turkey’s wattle — and others focus on showing gratitude.

To wish someone a “Happy Thanksgiving” – check out the banner below.

HTG 7 Ways to Write Thanksgiving

Which sign do you use for “Thanksgiving”? Feel free to share in the comments!

Solving the Mystery of Locatives

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.

anatomy 193x300 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

The above picture is an “anatomy chart” for written ASL. Please do feel free to click and print it out!

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

hello 300x173 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

“Hello” uses the Face and Forehead to Nose locatives.

kid 300x257 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

The ASL word “kid” can easily be written with the Nose locative.

will 300x195 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

“Will” or “shall” is a great example of how locatives can completely change the meaning of a digit. The face and nose-to-chin locatives are written here.

backofmind 300x77 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

If you have an idea that you’d like to store for a while, use the Back of Head locative. It’s also the “home” of your subconscious.

feel 300x206 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

“Feel” makes contact with the Torso locative. Notice how the size can expand or contract depending on what you are comfortable with.

arrow1 300x73 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

If you have a war story, then describe taking an arrow with the Knee locative. (A little something for Skyrim fans. :) )

Frontal Locative Examples

president 300x139 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

“President” makes use of the Forehead frontal locative.

dry Solving the Mystery of Locatives

The Chin locative works great with “dry.”

stuck 300x230 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

“Stuck” is written with the Neck locative.

our 300x268 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

Written ASL belongs to “our” community! Use the Shoulders locative to fill in the word. (It can be split into half if the sign only contacts one side.)

time 300x261 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

The Arm/Wrist locative helps establish the word “time.”

longshirt 300x145 Solving the Mystery of Locatives

Wearing a shirt that’s too long at the torso? Describe it using the Waist locative.

For in-depth information on movement space and locatives, check out How to Write American Sign Language!

ASL & English Handcuffed

What are some good or bad things about your experience moving between English and ASL? Feel free to comment below!


Hi, I’m Adrean Clark. A thought popped up today that I would like to share with you. You know when you watch different TV shows and movies, sometimes during the story two people don’t get along very well. Maybe they’re siblings… and to get them to solve their problems, they are handcuffed together. The two people are stuck, and forced to figure things out together. They have to discuss their issues and they do eventually become friends.

It came to mind that this “plot device” applies to writing. English and American Sign Language are “friends,” because they have to be. They are handcuffed together. ASL has no written version so English takes up that missing component. As a community, we’ve accepted that arrangement, because we haven’t experienced anything different. It has become part of our psyche. Things don’t need to be this way at all.

I’ll explain more:

Right now I’m learning Danish. I really enjoy learning about the culture and language. As part of my studies, I joined a website where I can type journal entries in Danish. My writing isn’t the best yet, so underneath my Danish entry I add the English version.

During the process I noticed that I tend to be very eager to write in Danish but not so eager to write in English. I feel like my levels of competency in Danish and English are battling each other; Not much progress is made in Danish because my mind is still attached to English, and in turn my English translation is chained to my Danish message. It’s frustrating.

When it comes to ASL and English, often I switch back and forth between the languages. Sometimes I can’t find the right ASL word, so I fall back on English. Other times I’m thinking of a great title for a fantastic project, the English name pops up first and then it’s a struggle to translate it to ASL. The two languages are handcuffed together.

I don’t like this at all. That’s why it’s important to have si5s writing – to cut the chain and let ASL breathe on its own. It’ll give us room to own ASL and absorb its full essence. English will then stay in its own boundaries. We need this.

So, I wanted to share this thought with you today. What do you all think? Let me know!

Ask ASLwrite – Facial Expressions and More

Curious about today’s Ask ASLwrite? Here’s what we discussed!

Q: How do you sign “blunt”?


blunt Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Blunt – with full head locative and forehead-to-nose locative.

Q: How do you show facial expressions that change the meaning of words?


noreg Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Plain “no.”

no Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

“No” with different expressions.

Q: How do you show where a sign starts, and what do you do with some words where the direction is interchangeable?

A: For interchangeable signs like “deaf” or “home,” you can put the digits in between the contact points. In other signs where the beginning point is standard, the digit is written there. It is like when reading a map — you don’t start at the end of the directional arrows, you start at the beginning of the line. starts Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Q: What about when your body moves while signing?

A: Use the locatives, at the focal point of the movement. If you’re going with expressions only without any signed words, see the example.

bodyshifts Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

bodyshiftfaceexp1 Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Q: Which perspective do we write from?
A: We write from our perspective as a signer, except in some words where the signs go outward from the body.

Q: How do you write the ASL word, “here”? What about “encourage” in comparison?

A: herencourage Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Q: How do we show the pace of signs in ASL? Slow vs. fast?

A: We are still figuring out the details, but here is what we can do for “slow” and “fast.” The squint indicates a slow pace and the firmpoint can indicate speed. Facial expressions are helpful, too.

slow Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Special Note:

In today’s session Guara Boisevert made an excellent suggestion on new indicators for several words related to gender. This is what he proposed:

guara Ask ASLwrite   Facial Expressions and More

Adrean’s note: All look great. Male and Female are already potential indicators, and Man and Woman can work without the contact point at beginning. We’ll see if the community picks it up!

Join us next Monday, November 12th for more! (We’ll be sending out the link via Twitter and Facebook, but you can sign up here to be notified by email.)

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