Learning about ASL semantics in “Wrong signs in ASL”

Developed by Mark Halley

Competencies Addressed:  ASL semantics

Time Required for Activity: 15 mins

Objective: To identify the ASL semantics of three signs and how they might influence interpreting work.

In this video, Dr. Byron Bridges discusses three ‘wrong’ ASL signs. He urges adults who work with deaf children to help ensure children do not use these signs.


You will watch a video in which Dr. Byron Bridges discusses three ‘wrong’ ASL signs and explains why they are semantically inappropriate. Dr. Bridges also urges adults to ensure deaf children do not use these signs. Why might Dr. Bridges feel this way?

Watch the Video

Watch the video and note the signs Dr. Bridges discusses, why they are ‘wrong,’ and his rationale for helping deaf children not to use these signs.

Check Your Work

Compare what you noted in the video to the following:

  • Dr. Bridges described the following signs:
    • fs-LOL
    • fs-UM
  • Dr Bridge’ rationale:
    • Being creative with signs is a good thing, but these are inappropriate.
    • Teachers sometimes use these signs, and it is like “nails on a blackboard.”
    • Adults have the obligation to tell children those signs are inappropriate.
    • These signs may have a place (e.g., in private conversations), but they are not appropriate in other situations (e.g., in an academic context).
    • There are other ways to express these concepts (e.g., moving the open hand in the space in front of your body instead of signing fs-UM).
    • There is too much English influence on children’s’ signing.
    • Some signs are semantically inappropriate (e.g, LAST/FINAL NIGHT vs. PAST/YESTERDAY NIGHT).
    • It is not a matter of criticizing, but of helping the children.

Watch the Video Again

Now that you have seen the video watch it one more time. Dr. Bridges suggested that adults such as teachers should ensure deaf children should not use these ‘wrong’ signs. Reflect on the following questions:

  • Would it be appropriate for you to correct a deaf child’s signing if you worked as an educational interpreter?
  • How might you do so?
  • Finally, if a deaf person used these signs, how might you interpret them into English?
  • For example, if a deaf adult responded to a joke by signing fs-LOL, what options would you consider when interpreting this response?

By | 2017-10-18T23:33:10+00:00 September 22nd, 2017|Activity, Interpreter, Intermediate, 15 mins, Semantic Equivalence|Comments Off on Learning about ASL semantics in “Wrong signs in ASL”