Ask ASLwrite – Facial Expressions and More

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

Q: How do you sign “blunt”?


"Blunt" in Written ASL

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

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


No in Written ASL

Plain “no.”

Variations on "No" in written ASL

“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. Starting Digits in Written ASL

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.

Body Shifts

Body Shift with Facial Expression

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: Written ASL words "here" and "encourage"

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 and Fast in Written ASL

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's Written ASL Indicator Suggestions

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.)

Guess the Candy

Tomorrow’s Halloween (or “National Candy Holiday” according to some of our family members). As a treat, today’s post has special candy bar/candy logos for you to guess. We’ve spelled out the English names so they should be easy to catch!

Guess the Candy Logos

(Answers at bottom of post.)

If you invented a candy bar, what would you name it in ASL? Let us know below!

ANSWERS: Reese (Reese’s), 3 Musketeers, Pop Rocks, Snickers, and Skittles.

HWASL eBook Now Available!

Our readers have been asking about How to Write American Sign Language, saying they’d love to have it in a compact, accessible ebook file. We agree, and now it’s available!

Book and ebook photo

Print book / eBook on the iPad

The great thing about the How to Write ASL ebook is that we’ve made it easy for you to transfer it between different programs and mobile devices. It can even be printed out if you prefer “old-fashioned” paper!

That’s not all — for a limited time, customers who order the print book will also get the ebook version for free. Pop over here to get your own copy of How to Write American Sign Language today!

Reader Requests: Happy Halloween and “Tru Biz”

This week we’re introducing a new feature — Reader Requests. There may be some words that are a little tricky to write out, or readers are curious what a particular ASL word looks like. They will also appear in the Writing Dictionary.

Happy Halloween

With a little holiday color, let’s see how we can wish someone a “Happy Halloween”:

Happy Halloween

To see the “halloween” sign in ASL, click here.

The regional sign for “Halloween” in Minnesota is different. The handshape is the same one used for the ASL word “kid,” and edge diacritics show that the handshapes are held with the pinky finger outwards from the face.

Happy Halloween Minnesota Style

Minnesota Style!

Requested by Heather Golob on our Facebook page.

Tru Biz

This ASL word has often been described as untranslatable from English. It’s glossed as “tru biz” or as John Maucere puts it in his show – “tubis.” The gist of its meaning in English is “actually, literally.”

tru biz in written ASL

Most common usage of “tru biz”

Of course, ridiculous situations sometimes require a little extra oomph:

Tru biz in written ASL with a flourish

“Tru biz” with a flourish.

Requested by Engage by Eview on Twitter.

Are there words that you’d like to see in a future Reader Requests? Let us know below!

The Power of Language

Are you an Apple fan too? Here are free wallpapers you can download!

"I Love Apple" 1064x768 Desktop Wallpaper

“I Love Apple” 1064×768 Desktop Wallpaper

I Love Apple 800x600 Desktop Wallpaper

I Love Apple 800×600 Desktop Wallpaper

I Love Apple Mobile Wallpaper

I Love Apple Mobile (iPod/iPhone) Wallpaper

I Love Apple iPad Wallpaper

I Love Apple iPad Wallpaper

I Love Apple New iPad Wallpaper

I Love Apple New iPad Wallpaper


Hi, I’m Adrean Clark. I have a few thoughts I want to share with you.

For a while I’ve been dwelling on how reading and writing is powerful. You probably know that I wrote the book, How to Write American Sign Language. After the book came out, people asked me, “Why should we write ASL? We have English.” Let me show you something.

(Adrean holds her shirt up to the camera. It is a black longsleeve shirt with a slogan printed on it. The slogan says I (heart) MY M(Apple Logo)C – I love my Mac.)

This is my favorite shirt. I love it, because it’s comfortable… and because of the words printed on it. The words are about the Mac – I’m a big fan of Macs. If you came up to me in person, you would see my shirt and automatically have a mental image. You would understand that I’m an Apple fan. You’d also have the opportunity to think, “Yes! A fellow Apple supporter!” or “Silly Apple fangirl, I prefer Android.”

All this happens within a matter of seconds. We didn’t have to sit down for hours while rehashing our history to find out what we like. The understanding occurs instantly.

Over the years we’ve debated over our language. Language is a means to convey information, history and culture. It’s a community toolbox that we use to relate to each other. We are using it as a common means to discuss and share with people.

English has its own “box” of history and culture. It carries a perspective of its own. For example, the ASL word “deaf.” It means an inability to hear — in ASL we “cut” our ears and “cut” our lips to show an inability to hear and speak. This comes from English. We accepted that word’s definition.

Are we really unable to “hear” and “speak”? No! We sign and watch each other. Where can we document our community’s perspective? How can we represent our thinking and cultural values?

If I want to put ASL on a shirt, for example, without writing I would have to decide what kind of person to represent as a signer. Is s/he black? Do I show s/he from a profile view? Who do I even show? Lots of overwhelming options. Where is the opportunity to focus on the language, on the message itself?

That is why we need a means to package ASL via a quick and effective medium. Reading and writing, the thought process and sharing of information is very powerful. We need it.

Now, you may be curious — how do you translate the message on my shirt in ASL? Here it is:

(Image in written ASL — Apple I Kissfist.)

For more information on written ASL, read How to Write American Sign Language.

ASLwrite – Support American Sign Language Through Writing!

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