Sign Can You 
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The ASL Vocabulary of Sign Can You


This is not a reference book to carry along and refer to while having conversation, at least not in the long term. It’s a book to devour as quickly as possible, and put aside. It’s a quick start guide to communicating in Sign.

Sign Can You is a starting point for acquiring Sign as a second language. Your instructors will be your Deaf associates. The process will be life itself. You’ll discuss what’s relevant, and because of its relevance, you’ll learn and remember Sign.

We began learning our first language before we could speak. It was a natural process of getting our needs met, and mimicking the language of others. We did it without a book. We’re not so much taught our first language as self–taught. Sign Can You encourages this mode of learning a new language.

The centerpiece of Sign Can You is its small vocabulary of relevant signs, which are mostly connected to the 341 illustrations. Actually, there are only 277 illustrations you’ll need to remember. The details are in the “Conclusion” on page 173. The idea is to become comfortable with this small vocabulary, and start having conversations.

The Sign vocabulary was carefully chosen to relate to our everyday lives and the things we talk about. It’s about who, what, where, how, when and why we are; including:



ASL sign illustration and video




              ASL sign illustration and video




                   ASL sign illustration and video




      ASL sign illustration and video




         ASL sign illustration and video






Space and time, because that’s where we live, and also where Sign lives.

Questions and statements, because we make conscious sense of our world through discussion.

Our five senses, because that’s how we perceive the world.

People and relations, because that’s how we fit in.

Opposites, because the world could be this or that, or somewhere in between.

Numbers and money, because that’s how we keep track.



Our sign vocabulary is in UPPER CASE BOLD. The “Sign Index” is comprised of all the UPPER CASE BOLD in the book. Look for the UPPER CASE BOLD when searching for signs via the “Sign Index.”

The bold italic text refers to communication in Sign. Big is the sign, and not the English word. The bold italics may be signs, groups of signs, facial and body expressions, Sign interpretations or hand shapes.

Focus on the DVD. Sign is a dynamic language that moves through space and time, more easily seen in motion. Also, Sign is more than hand movements. It contains body and facial expression, all combined to create a fluid whole. Lastly, vocabulary by itself is not language. Language is vocabulary passing through time. These things are impossible to express with snapshot illustrations. Thus, your emphasis should be on the DVD video which is multidimensional in its presentation.

Much can be said with the limited vocabulary of Sign Can You, but there’s much more to be said with a larger vocabulary. Use a dictionary and your Deaf friends to expand your vocabulary.



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