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From:  Cecelia Smith
Date:  Sun Jan 10, 1999  10:00 pm
Subject:  Re: actors

Bill.. I'll do more than break your heart for reminding me of that tune! Haha

However, to get to the meat of your message... if you use freeze frame
analysis of the signs in your list, used in free flowing discourse, rather
than in an isolated production of each sign, you will see that the "B" hand
shape really isn't. For example, in the sign BAKE, the thumb is not tucked
against the palm, but is really about an inch or so above it... more like
holding a pan than making a B for bake. Also, the words "be" and "breakfast"
are borrowings from signed english, rather than ASL. ASL doesn't use the
copula "be" and BREAKFAST in ASL is a contraction of EAT-MORNING. Now.. that
doesn't mean that the "B" handshape hasn't been used (looking at blue and
beer.. not to mention bitch and bastard) However, that is a case of English
influeincing the language. And really... do they mean B? When someone signs
Beer.. yeah, I guess you could say it does, becuz I know Beer vs Wine by that
initial letter... but if the difference between beer and wine, in sign was a
closed hand vs an open hand... we would still know the difference even without
the assignment of an alphabetic neumonic device. So.. while it is a "B"
shape, is it really a "B"? And is it just coincidence that the English words
also start with a B or is that a case of borrowing from English into ASL.
(luckily that doesn't happen as often as it could...think of how confusing it
would be to understand ASL if all signs had to incorporate the initial letter
of a corresponding English word! YIKES!

rambling on...
Cecelia Smith
Student of Linguistics
Gallaudet University

In a message dated 1/10/99 12:04:55 PM Eastern Standard Time,

> I do know that the "B" hand is used in "beer",
> "brown", "blue", "bitch", "breakfast", "bachelor", "bake", "bastard",
> "be", "bet". In these cases, it's obvious that the "B" hand denotes the
> beginning letter. For ASL, anyway.

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