Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Learn How to Say “Selfie” in ASL and Meet the People Behind the Sign


In today’s world words like “selfie,” “photobomb” and even “food coma” have become common place, but how would you sign those in ASL? Well, Douglas Ridloff and Tully Stelzer teamed up with HopesAndFears.com to figure that out. (music) Tully: “Adding new words to the dictionary
can be fascinating for many people. And that’s why HopesAndFears reached out to Doug in the first place.” Doug: “He asked me a lot of questions about ASL and these new words. Did we have new signs for all these new words, and were they in the Oxford dictionary? For some we did, but others we’ve never really used.” You’ll probably notice that they aren’t signing the same thing — and that’s because there’s yet to be one sign that the Deaf community’s approved. Tully: “I like to see everyone’s way of
signing things — ask them why they signed it that way. It’s kind of cool to see.” We spoke with one ASL professor from Gallaudet University, Ben Bahan, to talk about this process. Ben: “We might see a new word pop up in
our dialogue. At first most people, usually just fingerspell — unless, of course, the
community decides to use a sign they like.” Doug said that community approval is key to keeping the Deaf community intact. Doug: “Really the bottom line is that we just want to make sure that we’re all using the same signs. We can stay connected by everyone judging the signing and giving their approval because if there’s too many versions of the sign
out there then, we become weak.” For Ben, this process of community approval isn’t much different than hearing people’s process. He said that the best example can be found through Urban Dictionary. Ben: “People will vote and give it a thumbs
down or a thumbs up down. It shows how a new word spreads. If people use it, you’ll see it spread — but if not then it really won’t. It — it’s really the same idea with signing.” After posting the article, Doug posted his
version of “photobomb” on ASL Slam’s Instagram and ended up getting a lot of feedback. Doug: “I posted it on Instagram and some people responded disagreeing, and others really liked it. We ended up posting another version of
the sign and people seemed to respond a lot better to that one than mine.” Video: “I think it’s signed a bit more naturally like this or like this.” For Tully she says this experience was great and she likes seeing ASL become more prevalent in today’s society. Tully: “I really like that because it makes
more people want to learn sign. Then if I go some place, I can see everyone signing. So I like hearing people learning sign.” How do you sign these words? You can share your videos with us in the comments or go to Instagram and use #DHN. You can see the full article with Doug and
Tully below.

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