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Finish | ASL Ponderings

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Note: This is very dependent on the visuals, so what’s below is the straight transcript. I recommend watching this, if you’re able, to see the facial expressions.

Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. In this ASL Ponderings, I’ll be talking about the sign for “finish” and the many, many different ways it’s used in ASL. There are actually several signs that can be used for this word. They have slightly different uses, and also change very much on context and facial expression as you will see. They are: [finish], [end], [done], and there’s probably a couple that I’m forgetting. The first one, [finish], is what I’ll be focusing on today because that’s the one that has the most varied use. The second, [end], is typically used if you’re talking about the end of a task, something with a hard cut off, and usually time-related. [Done] is not used as often, because it has a very specific use – I’m absolutely done with this/I’ve had enough. With that, let’s discuss this sign, [finish].

First, the most obvious is what it means literally, of course. In ASL, there’s no specific sign for suffixes like -ing and -ed or tenses. What we do instead is use other signs or the context tells us what the tense is, here’s a few examples. I’ll do past, present, and future, so you can see what the differences are.

The slight differences between how “finish” is signed modifies what it means as well. If it’s past or future, it tends to be one motion, like so: [finish/finished]. If it’s present, it’s more than one time, [finishing]. This is because past/future is not currently happening or in motion, but the present is. We often use “finish” for the past tense as well. For example: I read that book. I [finish read] that book. I’ve been to that country. I [finish touch] that country.

Now for the perhaps less obvious uses. With this one sign, we can say things that take whole English sentences, and change the whole meaning with just our facial expressions. I’m sure I will miss a few usages of this word, but here’s a few examples. You will see that I’m literally signing the same thing, just different motions and expressions. The captions will reflect what it’d mean in English.

This just goes to show you how *important* facial expressions are in ASL! This is not the only sign that can mean many things and depend on facial expression/context for meaning. This gives you some idea of how difficult interpreting can be, doing everything live! I think that’s all I will cover today, I hope you learned something new from this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments.

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