For this lesson, read the text before you watch the video!
People learning to fingerspell usually read one letter at a time, and at the end of each word they try to mentally put the letters together to understand the word. However, when reading they will be able to glance at a word on the page and know it from the shape – there is no need to read it letter by letter.
Reading fingerspelling can be the same. Rather than concentrating on each individual letter, concentrate on the handshape the word makes. Notice the first letter, the last letter, one or two key letters in the middle of the word, the approximate length of the word, then use this information to work out what the word is. Context is very important, so factor in what you are talking about. A long word that is fingerspelled will often be spelled slowly the first time in conversation, and then for the remainder of the conversation, signed very fast. Think about what you are talking about and what the word could possibly be.
Try fingerspelling your name, looking for patterns and handshapes. Try finding patterns for these words:
Now watch the video – I sign these words, showing you the rhythm I use that adds flow to the word. Many words that are routinely fingerspelled have a particular flow and shape that makes them easy to identify, even if you can’t distinguish each letter. You learn those flow-shapes, just as you learn specific signs.
Some signs you might use around the house:
• Kitchen (KK)
• Light (this is for an electric light)
• Mobile phone
Here are some signs relating to hygiene:
• Do the dishes
These signs relate to study:
• Teacher (my thumb and pointer finger make an L shape here.)
• Study (in the video, two circular movements of my hand would have been enough.)
• Write (in the video I should have just written two lines on my hand, not three)
• Learn (again, two rubs of my fingers would be the correct sign for learn)
• Don’t know
Here I show you how to count in Auslan and some ways to use numbers effectively:
• 21 (most double digit numbers are structured like this)
• 22, 33, 44 (except where both digits are the same, in which case they are signed like this)
• 1 thousand
• 1 million (1 M)
• how old
• 6 years old, 7 years old (all ages are signed from the nose)
• 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock (all hours of the clock are signed from the pointer finger of the opposite hand).
Here are some more signs about time:
• Week (W down)
• Month (M forward)
• Year (Y down)
• Next week
• In two weeks
• In three weeks (you see the pattern here – this can go on up to 9 weeks!)
• Last week
• Two weeks ago
• Three weeks ago (you see the pattern here too.)
• Early (the same sign as after)
• Too late
• Half hour
Here are some signs about time:
• Time (this is the formal sign for time, like hands moving on a clock face)
• Time (sometimes Time is signed like this – think of pointing to a watch)
• Today/now (use the same sign for both words)
• Day (like the sun coming up)
• Night (like the sun going down)
• Tonight (today night – the sign used for ‘night’ here (fingers around the nose) is another common sign for ‘night’ and is often used for that word, especially in a context where you want to sign small, rather than doing big hand movements. For example, if you are tucked up in bed at night, saying good night to your partner, that’s the night to use.)
• Afternoon (noon after)
• Sometimes (in the video I did a few too many lifts of my hand – two movements would have been more correct – i.e. my right hand should go up and then down).