ASL Alphabet

ASL Alphabet

Sign language operates not with sounds, but with visual images. This makes it possible to communicate as effectively and practically as with spoken language. But gestures are used differently, depending on the country. Somewhere it is customary to communicate using only one hand, and somewhere both hands are used.

Sometimes additional information is conveyed by facial expressions, and in some countries it is not used at all. Sign language even has its etiquette, it describes the distance between interlocutors, how polite they should communicate, and in what form.

Different countries have a language for the deaf. Now there are about 130 sign languages. And along with sound sign languages, sign languages have their genealogical classification by families and groups.

Some sign languages, such as American and British sign languages, have already been widely researched. It is American Sign Language that we are going to talk about today.

A bit of a history

Sign languages received official recognition in the middle of the last century when American linguists undertook a systematic study of the language of the deaf. However, the history of the formation of sign languages is naturally older than a few decades. There is even a hypothesis that people first communicated using gestures, and only later began to use the voice.

Sign language owes its recognition to William Stookey, a young linguist at Gallaudet College in Washington State. In 1960 Stookey published “The Structure of Sign Language”, and in 1965 he and his colleagues published “A Dictionary of American Sign Language”.

From this moment we can talk about the emergence of a new scientific direction in linguistics.

ASL – American Sign Language

Alphabet ASL

American Sign Language, aka amsl, is used in the United States and Canada. But it can be attributed to the French language family. The fact is that in the XVIII century, French teacher Laurent Clerc was asked to come to the United States to create the first school for the deaf. This school was opened in Connecticut in 1817.

But in Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Ireland they use British Sign Language BANZSL (British, Australian, and New Zealand Sign Language).

ASL Alphabet A

A – fold your hand into a fist and turn your palm toward your interlocutor with your knuckles facing upward.

ASL Alphabet B

B – vertically open palm with the thumb pressed closely against the pad between the index and middle fingers.

ASL Alphabet C

C – open palm with the thumb puffed out and slightly bent, turned sideways so that the outline of the letter “C” is formed.

ASL Alphabet D

D – join the middle, ring, and pinky fingers with the thumb and extend the index finger upward. The side of the little finger should face the person you are talking to.

ASL Alphabet E

E – close your palm into a half fist and horizontally press your thumb under the others. Turn your hand with the palm facing the interlocutor so that the knuckles face upwards.

ASL Alphabet F

F – open your palm vertically with fingers extended and pressed against each other. Bring the index finger and thumb together.

ASL Alphabet G

G – closed palm toward the interlocutor, horizontally extending the index finger to the side.

ASL Alphabet H

H – with closed palm facing the other person, horizontally extend the index and middle fingers out to the side.

ASL Alphabet I

I – with the palm facing the interlocutor, clench the fingers into a fist and vertically extend the little finger upwards.

ASL Alphabet J

J – the same position of the fingers as with the letter “I”, but the palm should be at an angle, with an inclination towards the little finger.

ASL Alphabet K

K – very similar to the Victory sign, but with the straightened thumb pressed against the palm.

ASL Alphabet L

L – three fingers are pressed against the palm, while the index finger is straightened upward and the thumb is pulled to the side.

ASL Alphabet M

M – close the hand into a fist, not tightly, with the thumb sticking out between the bent pinky and ring finger.

ASL Alphabet N

N – same principle as M, but with the thumb positioned between the middle and index fingers.

ASL Alphabet O

O – round the fingers and interlock the thumb and index finger, the palm should face the opposite side of the body.

ASL Alphabet P

P – index finger pointing out, with the hand located horizontally, palm down.

ASL Alphabet Q

Q – the same idea as in the “P”, but the index finger points down, and the other fingers curled inside.

ASL Alphabet R

R – crossed index and middle fingers stretched up. Hand located vertically with the palm towards the interlocutor.

ASL Alphabet S

S – closed fist with the thumb overlapping the other fingers.

ASL Alphabet T

T – closed fist with the thumb sticking out between the index and middle fingers.

ASL Alphabet U

U – index and middle fingers extended upward and tightly pressed against each other, while the thumb is straightened parallel to the bent ring finger.

ASL Alphabet V

V – the classic Victory sign with the index and middle fingers forming a “V”.

ASL Alphabet W

W – three middle fingers extended upward and spread out, while the vague and thumb are connected

ASL Alphabet X

X – closed fist, palm forward, with the index finger bent. The thumb can be either inward or outward.

ASL Alphabet Y

Y – closed palm with pinky and thumb out.

ASL Alphabet Z

Z – diagonally folded ring finger and little finger, and diagonally extended index finger.


ASL Alphabet 0

0 – bend all fingers, towards the thumb, forming an “O”

ASL Alphabet 1

1 – extend the index finger upward from the closed palm.

ASL Alphabet 2

2 – extend the index and middle fingers upward from the carriage palm

ASL Alphabet 3

3 – extend the index, middle, and thumb out of the closed palm.

ASL Alphabet 4

4 – all fingers extended upward, thumb pressed against palm.

ASL Alphabet 5

5 – stretch out all five fingers of the hand.

ASL Alphabet 6

6 – all fingers extended, the thumb is connected to the little finger

ASL Alphabet 7

7 – all fingers extended, the thumb is connected to the ring finger.

ASL Alphabet 8

8 – all fingers extended, the thumb is connected to the middle finger

ASL Alphabet 9

9 – all fingers extended, the thumb is connected to the index finger

ASL Alphabet 10

10 – all fingers bent, the thumb points upwards, as in the sign “class!”.

International Sign Language

We have already mentioned that each country (or group of countries) has its sign language. However, there is such a thing as International Sign Language (International Sign). It is something like Esperanto, an artificially developed sign system.

In reality, it is not used that often, because at international conferences, the international system of communication is usually created on the fly. Gestures are chosen which, firstly, are similar in different sign languages. And secondly, the most iconic.