forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sun May 9, 1999  12:43 am
Subject:  Re: Inflection

Joe Martin wrote:

>Here's a discussion of some basic ASL grammar that I stole from another
>list. The next obvious question is, how do you write these two in

>>Could you help further? How does 'durative' differ semantically from

Hi Joe -
Thanks for this post and I too saw the discussion on the Sign Language
Linguist's List, SLLING. The questions refer to "verb inflections", or what
some call "verb modulations" - different aspects to verbs and how they

Verbs in ASL are definitely unique. And we have written them for years in
SignWriting in great detail. I even worked with the Danes on a comparison
of verbs in Danish Sign Language and American Sign Language, all written in
SignWriting. Not too different by the way - similar movements, although
they were applied differently.

I would have to see someone sign those verbs that are called "durative" and
"continuative". If I had them on a video, I could then transcribe them and
we could discuss it.

Meanwhile, if you all are interested in seeing some verb inflections
written in SignWriting, and if you have the SignWriter computer program or
the the ASL dictionary in SignWriter and type the word
"help" and press return. Then page down, and you will see approximately 30
verb modulations for the verb "to help". We not only have all the "You help
her". "You help them" etc....but we also have "you help regularly", "you
help continuously" and "you help over a long period of time" and we also
include getting "help from an authority figure"...and lots of variations.

If you own the Sutton's ASL Dictionary notebook, just look up the sign
"help" and there are the verb modulations.

Our DAC members, with the help of linguist Karen van Hoek, wrote more verbs
like that and I have them written on little pieces of paper in my office!
Someday I better get them on the web :-)

Anyway - thanks for the post, Joe, and maybe you can tell there a
video of verb modulations I could transcribe?

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton


The DAC, Deaf Action Committee for SW
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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