Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

Unit 1: Minimal Pairs


Recently you’ve learned that signs can be divided up into five parts These together are called parameters Now I want to show you how any one of these parameters can change just a little bit and it becomes a different sign So that whether it’s the handshape or the palm orientation any one of them is different So I’m going to sign for you minimal pairs So you know in English we have a word and we can change one letter or one sound and it becomes a different word So like if you start with the word SINK If I take that third letter the N and change it to an L The meaning has totally changed if I take the first letter of silk and turn it into an M the word becomes Milk and again the meaning has changed. It’s a different word In English if we have two words that sound similar it’s called a rhyme We have two signs that are somewhat similar we call them a minimal pair So I’m going to demonstrate some of these for you So first I’m going to start with handshape, so it can be A, B, C, it can be a claw a fist a 1… all sorts of different hand shapes. So i’m going to give you three examples So the meaning of the sign isn’t really important right now. I just want you to focus on how they look different So the location is the same here by my chin the movement is the same from one side to the other but The only thing that’s different is the shape of my hand So A for Arizona, R for restaurant, 2 for twin. That’s the only part that’s different. So let me show you another example: Next is palm orientation which way your hand is turned. Where is your palm facing? My handshape is the same, I’m still using a flat hand But where my palm is facing changes whether it’s down or to the side or up – that makes it a different word My palms turn down Next is the location where it where the sign is on your body? See my hand is a five and then up here. It’s still a five, but now it’s on a different part of my face Notice my handshape is the same, it’s still a flat hand, my palm is always faced this direction So my palm orientation is always to the side, but now it’s the movement that’s different. that means information that’s not actually on your hands It can be facial expressions, mouth morphemes or shift in my shoulders. My hands are doing exactly the same thing, but it’s what my head is doing that changes the meaning. Again it’s what my mouth is doing. That’s the only part that’s different. Sticking my tongue out makes it mean NOT YET. Winter: maybe it’s cold outside during the winter, but maybe it’s not Texas weather you never know!

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