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How To Learn Sign Language

Temporal Inflection in ASL – American Sign Language


In ASL, time and signs have a relationship. Signing the signs the same way every time doesn’t work. When time changes, the sign changes. Time does affect the signs, making it change due to the temporal aspect. Okay, there are three different types of temporal inflection. These three are: 1) Uninflected, which means it happened one time, that’s it. 2) Recurring, it is repeated over and over again. 3) Continuous, it keeps happening over a period of time. Okay, 1) one time, that is it, uninflected, time does not affect the sign. 2) Recurring, you know, used for signs like EVERYDAY, EVERY-, EVERY-WEEK, EVERY-MONTH, EVERY-HOUR, 3) Continuous, which uses ALL, ALL-DAY, ALL-HOUR, ALL-WEEK, ALL-MONTH, okay? When you sign a verb, a feeling, or an action, when you complain about something… the time signed will have an inflection upon your verb, feeling, or action, okay? Now, I will give you an example, you know the sign VOMIT? 1) THIS MORNING, I VOMIT. Okay? It happened only once. 2) EVERY-MORNING, I VOMIT++. As you saw, I repeated the sign for VOMIT, with time stoppage, then I repeated, I paused between the VOMITs. Okay? 3) Continuous: ALL-MORNING, I VOMIT. I kept going, made circular motions, I haven’t stopped. Just kept moving. Okay, you see, 1) VOMIT, 2) VOMIT++, and 3) VOMIT+++. You see the differences between these three, because the time was different. The signs depended on time. Okay? I’ll give you another example. You know the sign ANNOYING-ME? Okay. 1) YESTERDAY, MY FRIEND ANNOYED-ME 2) EVERYDAY, MY FRIEND ANNOYED-ME 3) ALL-HOUR, MY FRIEND ANNOYED-ME. FINISH. Okay, you see the three different types. When you sign time, remember the time, that the time does affect the sign.

7 Replies to “Temporal Inflection in ASL – American Sign Language”

  • I have to make some homework vids about this. I got it all in class but I forgot when i arrived home >.<. This was an awesome reminder. Are you a teacher? do you use the "Signing Naturally" books too? are you hearing?

  • Thankk you for doing these vids. They are helping me review what I've learned and also teaching me more. I really appreciate you taking the time to do them.

  • In my bachelors program at William Woods we touched on this. We are also learning about bound inflectional morphemes and bound derivational morphemes. If you could explain those, I would appreciate it!

  • Very helpful. I agree with all the others, you are a very effective teacher. I've caught a few of your videos and each time I walk away with more dots connected. Thank you.

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