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How To Learn Sign Language

Different Styles of Sign Language? : ASL – PSE – SEE

(♪♪♪) Hi everybody, welcome back. So this week, I’m going to be teaching you different types of sign langauge while you’re out and about socializing and improving your skills. Now I know most people are familiar with the first one, that is American Sign Language, ASL. Now American Sign Language is an actual official language. It’s considered the natural language of Deaf and hard of hearing people. Umm it has it’s own grammatical structure. It’s very different than English. Like for example in English you would say I go to the store. In American Sign Language you would say store me go. So it’s a little bit different. That’s why I try and teach on my channel is American Sign Language. Now the other two types of signed languages that I’m talking about are not official languages. They are used, they are used often, but it’s not usually what I end up teaching. Now the next one I’m going to be talking about is is PSE, and that’s Pidgin Signed English. I’m not talking about birds in New York City, pigeons. It’s P-I-D-G-I-N Pidgin Signed English. So as you can tell it’s called signed English because it’s using sign language but mimicking more of the English language. So Pidgin Signed English, PSE is pretty much a mixture of English and American Sign Language. It takes more the form of English. So you’d be signing…. instead of signing like store me go, you’d be signing me go store. So you’re still cutting out like the AM… TO… THE… you don’t use the article and different things like that, but you’re using more of an English structure. Umm.. You sign more of an English order, Often, you use your mouth more. You mouth the words a lot more heavily. than if you’re gonna use American Sign Language. Umm PSE is pretty common actually. Most people that I know use PSE. A lot of children now a days in schools are not taught ASL. They’re taught PSE, or the next one that I’m going to be talking about. It’s actually very very common, so if you end up using more of an English grammatical structure, using PSE is actually very common and that’s fine. Obviously you want to strive to learn American Sign Language because that is the official sign language, but just know you’re going to encounter a lot of PSE. The last one I’m going to talk about is SEE, S-E-E. That is Signed Exact English. Now I don’t see this one as often, but it is taught in many places. Signed Exact English is what it says, signing exactly the English word order. So in ASL we signed “store me go”, in Pidgin Signed English we signed “me to store”, If you were going to sign exact English, SEE you would sign, me – go – to – the – store. You would take the English sentence and sign word for word exactly what it is. So like in PSE where we didn’t use the words to and the, in signed English you would sign those. You would sign me – go – to – the – store. So to and the… in PSE we wouldn’t sign to and the. In ASL they’re totally left out and the words are flip flopped in a totally different grammatical structure. Umm… SEE like I said, it’s taught in some schools and a lot of places that are more oral based. Meaning they want the children to speak and not learn sign language. They might teach see. I know back in the 80s, and I think the 90s maybe, they often taught SEE. Umm… I know Jenna’s mother sometimes uses the SEE order, the to’s and the the’s. Like I said, whatever one you use, whether it’s ASL, PSE, or SEE, or whatever you’re using, that’s fine. As long as you’re trying and you’re working at it and trying to communicate, in a signed language of some sort, that’s fine. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to know perfect ASL grammatical structure. That’s just fine. Ok guys so hopefully today I’ve explained a little bit more about the different types of sign languages you may encounter. Like I said, I mostly encounter PSE, but I do try and strive to learn ASL. Especially if you’re learning sign language to become an interpreter, it’s best to learn all types of sign language, so you can match whatever your consumer is. Alright guys if you’ve enjoyed today’s video and you like learning about the different types of sign language and what you migh encounter, out in the world there, go ahead and hit that LIKE button below. If you’re not already, hit the subscribe button as well, so you keep getting videos from me and learning sign language and about the Deaf world and culture and interpreter tips and all of that good stuff. As always I will have my 2 other channels up here, my my vlog channel and my main channel which has beauty and cooking and all sorts of fun stuff. So definitely check those 2 out and subscribe to those as well. I will see you in the next video. Bye everybody!

59 Replies to “Different Styles of Sign Language? : ASL – PSE – SEE”

  • Hi! I'm re-learning ASL after a few years off. I read that OSV is used and is also called Topicalization. I also read that SVO is correct, so would I GO STORE also a correct ASL sentence?

  • ASL: Store(topic) me go/me(topic) go store (Time+Topic+Comment word order)
    PSE: me go store
    SEE: I(different from the ASL sign) am go+ING(yes there is a sign for the ING ending) to the store

    you sign all the endings in SEE. You SIGN EXACTLY what you are saying. how you are describing SEE is actually a type of PSE; it's on the PSE spectrum.

  • Thanks so much for this video! The deeper I delve into sign, the more complex its getting,and your videos are very clear and concise!

  • Thank you so much for making this video. Right now, I am basically racking up a vocabulary so naturally I am using PSE. I hope to eventually convert my knowledge to ASL.

  • Hi Jill!
    I am from Spain and I must say I love your videos!
    I've been learning about ASL (and deaf community) since I saw "switched at birth".
    Just wanted to say hi and thank you for making these great videos!

  • I agree with you. Most deaf people I know don't use ASL. They use PSE because they know English. English is the official language of the U.S. and many of their family and friends are hearing so it is essential that they learn English. They use English to read, write, email, text, watch movies with closed-caption, as well as communicate with hearing people so it natural that they would tend to sign the way they speak English.

    In your description of SEE, however, you still used "ME." There is a sign for "I" in SEE (initialized "I") and I see people using it. In fact, I grew up with a friend who signed your example sentence this way:

    I am go+ing to go to the store. She signed very fast in order to put all of the words in there. She used "Am" which is an "A" just below the lips which moves forward. She also added the "ing" to go. She had an equivalent sign for each English word.

    I'm a linguist, so when I realized that ASL existed and that it was an actual language, I switched to ASL. It has been many years. It is frustrating, however, when I hear so much about ASL being its own language completely separate from English, but everyone I see signs PSE and are bilingual and fingerspell English constantly. That hardly constitutes a language that is separate from English. Although ASL could be used in a way that does not depend upon English, its use of fingerspelling English words reveals a dependency on English. Words, for example, used to specify things often don't have signs and deaf people fingerspell the words because they are bilingual. Here are some examples:

    oak / pine / filbert / maple / willow / walnut
    lily / daisy / hydrangea / chamomile / pansy
    rosemary / thyme / basil / turmeric / cumin
    bran / barley / rye / wheat
    iron / steel / lead / aluminum

    I know of no specific signs for these words and even if there were, most deaf people would not know them.

    I am a Spanish interpreter and know equivalents for all of these previously mentioned words. In ASL, however, a person has to fingerspell the English word in order to convey these terms. ASL could create signs for the hundred of thousands of words that languages like English, Spanish, and French have in order to specify certain things, but ASL is a relatively new language. It is also a minority language and its users are typically bilingual and fingerspell English so it is doubtful that it will evolve that way. Using ASL is one of the requirements for Deaf community membership and there are many deaf who vilify people who have cochlear implants, choose to be oral, do not sign, used signed English or do not toe the line when it comes to Deaf Community political views. I mention these things, because ASL is what links the Deaf Community (apart from deafness), but most of them don't actually use ASL although they say they do. This is a very interesting topic because language is what unites a community, but in reality most deaf people don't sign an actual "language." They communicate using a signed system.

    I could go on and on, but I had to throw in my two cents about the topic.

  • A good was to put it is
    ASL is ASL grammar ASL sentence structure
    PSE is ASL grammar English sentence structure
    SEE is English grammar English sentence structure
    And I believe most if not all deaf people will understand PSE.
    I might be wrong

  • SimCom would mostly be PSE or SEE, right? It seems like it'd be very hard to simultaneously say & sign a sentence with different word order between the signs and the words.

  • Hey Jill & Jenna,
    Do you have any advice on switching from SEE or PSE to stronger ASL ? I started to lose my hearing about 10 years ago and it is only getting worse. I am noticing that I am relying more on my hearing aids and lip reading although I can sign I am not very good at making the adjustment because english is my first language. I have been slowly teaching myself and I get get by but I could really use some advice on how I know which order to put words or what to leave out. Thanks so much , I love your videos!

  • I was born in 85 and started 1st grade in 91, I am hearing impaired by birth. I was trying to find what "version" of sign language I was taught since I can hear and do not know any adults that know sign language now. I have forgotten most of what I was taught in school and wanted to relearn it again. So here in Indiana in the early 90's we were in fact taught SEE. We did sign the word "I" though. Thanks for the video, it helped me figure out which one I was taught and will be the one I revert to learning again.

  • If a deaf or hard of hearing person was naturally accustomed to asl, but someone signed P.S.E. or S.E.E. to them, would they still understand what the other person is trying to say?

  • I'd like to learn sign language by myself, but I don't know if I should start with PSE or ASL, what do you suggest?

    (also I'm italian, so english isn't my first language but I understand it pretty well)

    I'm between the age 9-12, so I decided to learn sign language now just incase I encounter someone who spoke it. I was wondering if the signs for ASL are the same as PSE and vice versa. Thank you!

  • Is it okay to sort of blend all three? Lol, there are instances that I may sign "to," but not "the." My signing is so bad lol, it's all over the place.

  • Are signs the same in ASL PSE and SEE or are they completely diffrent? For example if I just learned how to sign "store" in ASL can I use it in PSE?

  • Hello! So, I absolutely LOVE your guys' channel, and I was wondering if it would be possible for you guys to do a video about the different sign languages. I know ASL certainly isn't the only one out there (I'm personally quite interested in German sign (DGS)) and I think it would be awesome, especially if you guys could collab with other people out there to sort of show us the differences a little bit between a couple of the sign languages. (Another similar suggestion: you guys could talk about the history of sign languages – for instance, how they evolved, versus how spoken language evolved – e.g. BSL and ASL are completely different, and two languages that aren't linguistically related at all have similar signing (I think ASL came from LSF (French sign), if I have my history right (as did DGS and ÖGS (Austrian German sign) by proxy). Thank you guys so much, I absolutely LOVE your videos!!! 🙂

  • Hey guys I really want to learn sign language but I don't know if asl or pse is better or most commonly used please just drop a comment on what type of sign language you use and it's pros and cons

  • Hello! I really hope you answer, but I really want to learn sign language and I've started with ASL, but I like PSE a lot. I was wondering if the only difference between the two is the word order, or are all the signs different? I want to learn both if it's just word order, but if all the signs are different I'll have to pick one, because right now that would be a bit overwhelming. Thank you so much if you reply!

  • in my personal opinion i love ASL. so my question is if i were to run across someone who uses PSE i would be able to understand because american english is my first language but would they be able to understand asl?

  • quick question: do interpreters use PSE or ASL more. Also if you use PSE, do you still say that you know ASL or would you say PSE?

  • I was an interpreter for SEE sign language and we were always told never say Me go store. We were always told I will go to the store. So, that the kids would see us sign it the way it is written in a book. Just a tip.

  • I think I stared with SEE to kinda learn more signs (if that makes sense), then as I started picking up signs and remembering them, PSE became easier. Now I'm learning ASL. I absolutely love learning all three but it does get confusing sometimes ❤
    I'm still working on it though

  • Hmmm I think SEE way is taught or should be taught just so that Writing the language won't be difficult. I took two classes back in 1980 but didn't have anyone to practice with or talk to away from class and the third class was at night and the college was unsafe for me at that time. I do try to help or conversate with anyone who uses sign for communications and it has always been a pleasant experience. I also took braille and bought a used manual brailler. I want my granddaughter is to learn braille as well. Her first language was sign. She is five now and still remembers a lot of signs. We have less time now but will endeavor to immerse her again to communicate with more people of the world
    We also dabbled in spanish and french too. Thanks for the vid. New subby😉

  • When I first learned to sign in the 1970's, SEE was commonly taught to children in public school programs. In fact, there were two versions of SEE (Seeing Exact English and Seeing Essential English) which had been developed by two Deaf teachers (Gerilee Gustason [] and David Anthony, IIRC) who then diverged.
    [See for a more complete discussion of this history.]

    Seeing Essential English got pretty esoteric, and IMHO, not very accessible for the average person, so I'm not surprised to see that Seeing Exact English survived all these years. I have run into public school programs now who, in theory, are teaching kids ASL. I'm not sure how that works, in practice, since the level of signing ability for teachers varies so much. Historically (1970's to present, and possibly other times) children raised in State Schools for the Deaf tended to be more ASL, while students from neighborhood public school programs tended to know more SEE. I can't speak for today.

    SEE systems (MCE – Manually Coded English) use INITIALIZATION, so that ASL signs are modified with letters of the alphabet to cover English words that have similar meanings. For example, there might be different signs for the similar ASL concept/different English words of "fall" and "autumn", with "autumn" signed with an A on the dominant hand, and "fall" signed with an F. (Please excuse my vague examples; it has been a long time since I've thought about all this.) If the English word is the same ("fall" the season, and "fall" off your bike), the same SEE sign would likely be used, just as in English.

    I believe initialization has, in part, been accepted into modern ASL as a whole generation grew up learning MCE systems. That likely varies with the individual.

    I learned SEE first, and it has been difficult to switch to PSE/ASL. I mostly use SEE now for outrageous puns, such as suggesting that I might "egg you on" (literally), rather than "encourage" you. This may be the source of my social ostracization. LOL

    In my experience, it is best to treat everyone I sign to as an individual, and adjust my sign to their preference and ability with English. Deaf folks who know more English are going to be more able to read PSE/SEE than someone who doesn't understand as much English. And some folks just plain prefer ASL; it is the cultural language of the USA Deaf community.

  • Hello, I am a Spanish speaker and I would like to learn sign language. I was wondering if there's one sign language with which I can communicate with most of the people around the world, at least in a basic level. Because I understand that there are a lot of different "styles".

  • is PSE considered wrong? I am learning ASL but I am finding myself doing more PSE off of habit because my first language was english. idk if this would make sense but I feel like im in the middle of asl and PSE, just because somethings i do in asl grammar and other things I do PSE. I never done SEE though, because SEE (although its weird) confuses me alot because my mind knows that ASL doesnt use "be" words or the same exact grammar as english. idk if I am making any sense haha sorry.

  • When interpreting ASL into verbal SEE (English) how is one suppose to speak in terms of translation? As an interpreter I wouldn't translate by saying "Store I go" I would say he/she says "I'm going to the store." How does an ASL interpreter understand the sentence and relay that message before more ASL sentences are made. Can an Interpreter have trouble catching up to an ASL signer?

  • do overseas non english speaking countries use these types of sign? is sign and its variations a universal language?

  • I know this video is older but I wanted to thank you. I've been studying ASL but being self taught and losing my hearing I'm rushing to understand all the words and sentence structure, I've been so worried if I used PSE if I would be looked down upon. I'm grateful for the knowledge that isn't the case.

  • I took sign language in school when i was in 6 to 12 grand and there teacher was teaching us ASL as the year went on I started to do more SEE and PSE . I still sign and very good at it. What i do is i asked the person what Sign language they us and then i tell them that i know all 3 but am not good at PSE but i am learning it more and more.

  • My eyes filled with tears of joy as I watched this video.
    I'm Brazilian, I'm deaf, I'm polyglot. Currently I am learning ASL, I communicate but I continue studying to improve.
    This video made me happy, because for the first time I could actually understand the difference of these three American sign languages.
    I was even happier, because here in Brazil I am a researcher. And here in Brazil some authors argue that the structure of LIBRAS is subject-verb-object, contradicting previous research that takes a pragmatic and visual format, where verbs should go at the end of the sentence construction.
    I argue that the structure must be OBJECT-SUBJECT-VERB. For I do a survey of how the "deaf think." And in my model I established that the action at the end is the best option.
    Thanks for this video.
    If you want to contact me whatsapp: +55 31 9 94774491 or +55 31 94774491.
    Thank you!

  • Thanks so much for the video! I especially love what you said at the end about not having to be perfect! That´s great encouragement!

  • Thank you for this video. I use SEE more than ASL because my parents is talking I don't know PSE exist it look like mix with SEE. I never use 'Me' I just use "I" like "I went to food store" as what I said. SEE and ASL still different sign languages these still part of languages.. I use SEE because I am more comfy with this than some speed too fast in ASL hard to caught what's they say lol.

  • Thank you so much for clear informations!
    I'm from France, using and teaching FSL (French Sign Language) wich works exactly like ASL. Actually i try to learn ASL alone because obviously it's impossible to find an ASL teacher here, but i wanted to know the differences with PSE and SEE and now it's clear. So thank you

  • I’m glad to hear you say its okay.. other groups I’m in people shun any other use other than ASL and they are or can be very rude to others. Thanks for the video, again.

  • Hearing people should learn sign language by deaf people because of deaf’s own language and culture Deaf people didn’t teach hearing people how to talk.

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