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How To Learn Sign Language

Study Sign Language: Homophones (same English word, different ASL signs) – Part 2


Warning: This video is entirely in ASL, so we do have closed captions if you need! To turn that on for English, just click the “CC” button and that will show you the English description of what’s going on. Anyway let’s get started! Hello — today I’ll be teaching signs for different English words where the English word is the same but the concept and the meaning and the sign are different. In English, it’s called a homophone, and a homophone means that it sounds the same, it’s spoken the same, maybe it’s spelled the same, but the actual concept — the meaning of the word is what’s different. And so in ASL the sign is different! This is video part 2. In last video I showed 10 different English words – how they’re spelled and then many different signs for the many concepts, and today I’m going to show a new set of 10 different words! Thank you all for sending me the list that you guys sent me. So, Number 1 is the English word “show”. That has many different meanings: There’s show like this: SHOW, and that’s like maybe acting, a play, maybe music… something where you’re standing up in a show, in a play, in a performance. “SHOW”. Then there’s also “show” for to show someone something. So, “EXAMPLE” is a similar sign to “SHOW”, meaning I have something, or maybe I am teaching something — I will SHOW you. SHOW. And that sign “SHOW” depends on who is showing whom what, and the sign might change depending on that. If you’re showing me something, it’s signed like this. I’m showing you, it goes toward YOU. You’re showing someone else something, goes that way. to show many people, make an arc. And that’s SHOW, and SHOW. Number 2… OUR (O-U-R), and HOUR (H-O-U-R). O-U-R are means *our* – it’s something that belongs to us. So that’s the possessive hand shape for ownership. That’s “OUR”. The other is about time: H-o-u-r… 1-hour, like the hand going around the clock: one hour or it’s also signed like this, or like this. I’ve seen different signs. So it’s like the clock hands moving around. So OUR possessive, and HOUR time. Number 3 is the English word “free” – has maybe three maybe more meanings. So the first is about money: Something that has no cost, and then I tend to see it signed like this with the “F” handshape: FREE. FREE like this means cost nothing. Zero dollars. FREE. A second sign is “FREE” like this — it means not enslaved; to be freed — it’s similar to the sign rescue, or save someone. So that’s FREE with closed fist. so ‘not in chains’ — FREE. Number three: AVAILABLE. That’s the “open 8” handshape. AVAILABLE means you’re not busy; you don’t have any appointments. It means you looked at your schedule, and you’re available or FREE! Let’s move on to number 4 – has four different versions. BUY – “buy” is about money. If you’re out shopping, you see something you want, and BUY it. BUY. A “flat O” handshape goes out like that. BUY. To BUY something. The second one also “B-U-Y” but has a different meaning and it means something — someone tells me something, or describes something, explains it, maybe shows me something, and I BELIEVE it or I ACCEPT it. So maybe use the sign BELIEVE or ACCEPT to describe “Oh, I’ll buy that.” Right? “I buy it” or “I’d buy *into* something” and I believe it; I accept it. so use those signs. Number 3: “BI” meaning you like both men and women; not limited. That would be “BI” – and tend to fingerspell it out: B-I, very short. So, understand that that topic has many, many different signs that are still new and changing, so people might like or not like different signs. Online, people I’ve seen discussing and they seem to say: accept B. It’s simple and clear: B-I for “bi”, and Fourth is “B-Y-E” – so you probably know that already, where you can wave or “see you later” – Sign “SEE-YOU LATER”. So again: BUY as in money is signed like this. To “buy” an idea is you can sign BELIEVE or ACCEPT to show that you buy into it. Number 3 “BI”, and number 4 is just to wave goodbye. Number 5: “Pine” has two different meanings. So one is like a tree, and the second is meaning you really really want something. So for a tree you can find tree and then you fingerspell to describe “PINE”, and second to “pine” for something–like really want it–you can sign those things right? and your facial expression should show how much you want — really want something, or really really want it or DESIRE something, WANT something. Number 6… The word “TAKE” has three different things: First literally TAKE something — to take it physically. So I want something and I take it. And that can be directional to show where it came from. Number two is similar, but you’re not *physically* taking something; it’s conceptual, and that would be signed like this: “to take”. It’s really like to “take up” something, so maybe a class, for example. You can take a class — to TAKE. Number three… Really, I actually just thought of a fourth. So here we go: Number three: Me saying “my take on” something — means my PERSPECTIVE, or my UNDERSTANDING. So that’s, you know, “my take on that”. It’s not that you’re physically taking something, but it’s your UNDERSTANDING or your PERSPECTIVE on something. So I would sign “UNDERSTANDING”, I think is a better sign — my understanding. And fourth, tends to actually be “takes” (with an ‘s’), which means REQUIRED. For example, maybe a job requires strength, or “takes” wisdom, it “takes” patience… Right? So “it takes”=it REQUIRES something. So again: TAKE physically, TAKE-UP conceptually, my UNDERSTANDING / my take on something, and a REQUIREMENT. Number seven… the word CHANGE could be like this — things that change. And that sign tends to also change as well depending on the context: change, clothes change, so change. And another meaning is coins — right?
Money. CHANGE — so not dollars but small coins — CHANGE. change or change. Number 8: Each “H-A-V-E” — “HAVE”– like HAVE a dog, HAVE shoes, HAVE anything that you have, versus “HAVE TO” means must: MUST. MUST — so I MUST, is to say “I have to go to the store.” Or I MUST cook dinner, MUST. So HAVE vs. HAVE-TO. So HAVE, “have to” — use the sign MUST. Number 9’s three: T-E-A is “tea” the beverage. Hot water — TEA. Number 2: “T-E-E” like a shirt like a “Tee” — T-shirt. So I’ve seen it like “T-shirt”, um.. you can also better describe it: “Shirt, short sleeve.”=T-shirt. In general — for shirts you can show the length like that. so: SHIRT SHORT-SLEEVE. And Number 3 the letter “T” – like that. “T”. So that was again: TEA the beverage, T-SHIRT, and the letter T. Number 10: the word COOL, C-O-O-L, so there’s like COOL, this is the sign related to temperature, so maybe there’s a nice breeze, so it’s not quite cold but it’s cool: COOL. Is different from COOL- something that’s, you know, “cool”, “neat”, this is also used for COOL, sometimes… so describe something you like, is COOL. This is the temperature, and that’s just something that’s cool or interesting. And that’s it for today! I hope that those 10 signs, well really probably 20 or 30 signs! that you learned for the different English — the difference between English and ASL, helps you focus on the *concept* as you learn signs. I hope that that helped. If you have other homophones (English words the same and the sign would be different) please send it to me! I would be happy to record more, and I’ll see you again soon! Thank you for watching. Bye!

27 Replies to “Study Sign Language: Homophones (same English word, different ASL signs) – Part 2”

  • I want to go to college for Deaf Studies in the next couple of years, and these tutorials help emensly! Also, we have the same name!!

  • This is so nice for references when one has free time. You are detail oriented and that's awesome. You show by different angles and repeat many times. Thanks for sharing your gift of a learned language so that we may share with others the blessing of communication. Blessings!

  • these are very helpful videos I like the way you look deep into the meanings and concepts in ASL homophones etc…..

  • This is very helpful, thanks for doing this video! I'd love to see more videos of similar signs, where a learner may get confused between different signs that look alike. I actually signed 'condom' instead of 'month' once. Kind of embarrassing. 🙂

  • Would it be possible for you to do a video of signing foods? Like when a deaf or hard of hearing person comes to a restaurant to order and/or is asking what foods there are. Thank you for your videos nonetheless. 🙂

  • Hi Meredith, can you please make a video with personal pronouns and family members like Uncle, Aunt, Cousin, Mother, and I, You, HIs, Her, It and Etc.

  • These are super helpful! And there are so many more!
    Fall–Autumn vs Fall –trip, fall down
    back–opposite of front vs back–support, to back someone up vs back–to return "I"m taking this back to school"
    bear — the animal vs bear– to tolerate "I can't bear the pain!"
    case — a box or container vs "just in case"
    chip — the things you eat vs chips– in computers vs chip (verb) — to knock a small piece out of something "this plate is chipped"
    close — nearby vs close– opposite of open
    match (can be noun or verb) — to be the same vs match–little wooden thing to make a flame
    pound– to describe weight vs pound — to hit hard vs pound– British currency

    OK, I could go on, but there's a bunch for next time!

  • Your videos are really helpful to me! I'm in 6th grade and I'm learning ASL and your videos are perfect to help me learn!

  • hello Meredith you are teach how to sign an English simple clear perfect like fantastic sign,  applause yay, Meredith, I take my off my day long weekend rest,,  good day  care  bye..

  • I love these. How about just? Like righteous and fair but also like only, like it's just one day or something. Or fair! Like a county circus or an older way of saying pale, like a fair complexion

  • Wow. This is very important to know. I noticed people using different signs for a word but it was different because the MEANING was different. Thank you so much.

  • these videos are so good because it really helps you understand that it’s not about literal definitions in sign language but about expressing, I think this is so helpful and i love all the practice sentences, it helps me really understand how to use the words i know and i think is really helping me learn this language

  • Thank you for this. I'm about to lean how to sign the sing "The Greatest Show" from the Greatest Showman. I only knew "Show" with putting your finger on your palm. I never knew the other sign could be used that way, for "show". Thank you so much, I owe you a lot.

  • Yipee, Meredith! TFS, but you could also add ‘by’ (like by-adjacent to/next to/near to or written by an author) with the other, ‘buy’. I know it’s a homonym but cool to throw them in next, please. 😃👍🏾❄️🎄☃️ Happy Holidays and all the BEST in 2019!

  • "Bi" means two. The example you gave is for bisexual. The term "Bi" has been accepted in society to mean that. But how would you sign 'bi' in regards to time, such as bi-weekly meeting, bi-annual report, etc. And also terms like bi-partisan committee?

  • When I learned the sign “must” I was wondering about if you were saying something like , “that must have been hard” . Would you just sign hard you? Or is there a sign to indicate your talking about the past? Even present uses like that, I’m just wondering how to translate that. Thanks! Love your videos!

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