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- How To Capture Wrist Motion
- Opening Doors – Hinge Diacritic
- Moving In Circles – Rotational Diacritic
- Shake And Rattle – Rattle Diacritic
- Fluttering Fingers – Flutter Diacritic
- Standing On Edge – Edge Diacritic
Written ASL diacritics use special marks that suggest wrist movement and palm orientation, allowing readers to imagine the motions. There are five diacritics in written ASL: Hinge, Rotational, Rattle, Flutter, and Edge.
The name hinge diacritic suggests an opening and closing of the joint. That is exactly what happens in the hand when it moves from side to side or from front to back. It is written with an arc below the digit.
The specific motion indicated by a hinge diacritic depends on the context of the ASL word.
Moving In Circles – Rotational Diacritic
The secret to knowing when to write a rotational diacritic is to feel the bones in your forearm as you sign. If the bones swivel past each other, then the diacritic is written. The circular motion is a perfect fit for the small circle mark below the digit.
Sometimes ASL handshapes have a quick “shaking” motion. The rattle diacritic shows this brief motion. It is also specific in its location.
The above placement of the rattle diacritic indicates the quick movement of the full handshape. Placing a rattle diacritic near an area means that that location moves. The areas can be one finger, one thumb, a set of fingers, or the entire handshape (base of main stroke).
Sometimes fingers move in a “fluttering” motion. A series of curves are written above the fingers in the flutter diacritic.
Sometimes a handshape is turned onto its side so that the end of your palm faces outward. The edge diacritic helps discern your palm orientation in that particular situation. The line is written according to the surface that the digit “rests” on, whether it is upright or on its side facing outward.
– What ASL words are written in the two examples below? (Scroll down for the answer.)
– Figure out how to write the following words using digits and diacritics only:
– How many more ASL words can you think of that uses only diacritics?
– Yes and Finish
Next Step: Movement Marks
Moving handshape images © Adrean Clark.
The ASLwrite Community has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the text and method of written ASL contained on this website and How We Write American Sign Language. In releasing copyright, we ask that written ASL be respected as the domain of the American Sign Language-speaking community and that it be given all the rights and privileges that written English enjoys.
This work is published from the United States.