Writing Space

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As one of our New Year’s resolutions, ASLwrite is making it easier for you to learn written ASL! The following video is #5 in our 6-week course in written ASL featured here on the website, Twitter, and Facebook. It’s a great complement to the How to Write American Sign Language book!

If you’re just popping in now, you can go back and start with Why Write American Sign Language?

Today we have a special message. Let’s put aside the 5 parts of ASL for a moment and discuss writing space.

In order for us to translate 3-dimensional space into a 2-dimensional format, we need to be wise with how we arrange things on paper. In written ASL, the signing space corresponds with written space. We need to make sure that it’s clear in writing.


The Two Spaces

There are two kinds of written space: Neutral and Locative. Our course so far has taken place within neutral space, from the signer’s perspective. Locative space is a perspective outside the body, as if one were watching the signer. (It’s also called the 3rd person perspective.) We will go in-depth with locative marks next.

Let’s take a look at why locative space is important. Words such as tomorrow, tend, and smart are connected to the body. If we focus on the handshapes and motions alone, the words do not have meaning.

Locative Space Examples

As you see, some words need locatives to be understood. That’s why we have neutral space and locative space.

See you next time!



Your assignment is to look through the ASL Writing Dictionary at http://aslwrite.com/dictionary and find at least 5 words that use neutral and locative space. Compare the words and figure out what part of the body the locatives represent.

NEXT: Locatives!


Answer Key to Mapping Your ASL:


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