Familial Signs | ASL Ponderings | Vlogmas

Hello and welcome to Vlogmas day 11, and the first ASL Ponderings I’ve done in a while! Today probably will be short. I want to discuss some familial signs.

I won’t discuss signs that are usually taught in ASL classes, like mother, father, brother, sister. I also won’t discuss neutral signs for family, because I already have a video for that, up here I think. If not, it’s over there. I do want to add one sign that I didn’t have in that video. The word spouse, I’ve see it signed from the cheekbone. A while ago, I learned a new sign that I really like. It’s the same handshapes and motions as husband/wife/spouse but it’s signed with the thumb touching then moving from the heart, [spouse-heart]. I like that much better than [spouse-cheek], it’s not the best. [spouse-heart] has more meaning.

Today, I want to talk about more complex relationships further in the family tree. In ASL, we tend to give an in-depth explanation. We don’t have specific terms. Yeah, of course, we have the “basics” like mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparents, etc. But for words like maternal grandparents. That’s one example. We will tend to say my mother’s parents. Or another way that you might see it, my grandparents from my mom’s side.

Another example that I don’t really see hearing people use in casual conversation either, but I’ll mention it anyway. First cousin once removed. This is not used in ASL at all. We tend to do this: my mother’s cousin. Or my cousin’s child.

One more example that I wrote down, but I kind of already explained it earlier. My great-aunt from my father’s side. We will often add from father’s side, from mother’s side. Either way, to be clear where we’re going.

To sum it up, when you explain family in ASL, you tend to start with yourself, then change where the relationship is. For example: my father’s father’s brother. You’d sign: my father -> his father -> his brother. Not just out of the blue, my great-uncle. You would explain exactly where the relationships go, how you’re related to that person.

That’s fairly simple, but I hope that helps make it clear how to explain family in ASL. And that’s it for today, thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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