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A Note on ASL Gloss

Throughout this course, next to the English word and the sign, you will also see a form of transliteration known as ASL Gloss. This is the written form of American Sign Language, and while you don’t need to learn gloss in order to learn sign language, seeing it will help you start to learn how American Sign Language works. Basically, the gloss tells you everything the hands, face, and body are doing to create a phrase or sentence in ASL.

Here’s a short key to ASL gloss that might be helpful:

PRO-1 / PRO-2 / PRO-3 Pronouns (I, you, he, she) are glossed as PRO-1 for first person (I, me), PRO-2 for second person (you), and PRO-3 for third person (he/she, him/her)
POSS-1 / POSS-2 / POSS-3 Just like the pronouns above, these are used to show possessive pronouns in the gloss. POSS-1 (my), POSS-2 (your), POSS-3 (his/her)
+ A + sign between two words means "and," while a + sign after a word on its own means you will repeat that sign.
IX IX stands for "index" and indicates the signer needs to point to someone or something. IX-loc, for instance, means you point to a location
fs Indicates that a word should be fingerspelled
# When # appears before a word, it indicates that the word is a lexicalization of a fingerspelled word. It should not be fingerspelled; it is actually its own sign.
Q-wiggle Indicates "question mark wiggle," where you form an "X" with your hand and wiggle (or, flex) your index finger a few times to indicate a question

You will also often see text written above a line in the gloss; this is used to determine information about a sentence that will inform the way it is signed.

wh-q Indicates a Wh-question, such as how, why, where, when, who
y/n-q Indicates a yes/no question
nod Indicates you should nod for emphasis
neg Indicates a negative statement, so you should be shaking your head in negation
affirm Indicates an affirmative statement
topic Indicates which part of the sentence is the topic of the sentence

Don’t worry about learning how to read everything in the gloss at this point, but feel free to use it if you think it will be helpful to you.