Notation Conventions for English Transcription of American Sign Language

To better facilitate the transcription of American Sign Language (ASL) into English, we’ve used a notation convention that has become a universal standard among deaf researchers.

SIGN Words in capital letters represent English glosses for ASL signs. The gloss represents the meaning of the unmarked, unmodulated, basic form of a sign out of context.
SIGN-SIGN Multi-word glosses connected by hyphens are used when more than one English word is required to translate a single sign, for example, LOOK-AT.
W-O-R-D Fingerspelled words are represented by hyphenated capital letters.
‘meaning’ Words within Single quotation marks indicate the meaning or referent of the signs.
“word” Double quotes for words or signs indicate direct quotations, non-literal meanings, etc.
/W/ Notations within slashes specifying sub-lexical parameters of signs, for example, specific handshapes or movements, places of articulation.
SIGN^SIGN Sign glosses joined by a circumflex indicate compound signs in ASL.
SIGN [modulation] Bracketed superscript following a sign gloss indicates that the sign is made with some change in form associated with a change in meaning from it basic, uninflected form; that the sign has undergone a morphological process.
CAR-classifier; CL:/3/ Classifier verbs in ASL are indicated either semantically (CAR-classifier) or by the particular Hand Configuration used to mark the class (CL:/3/).

Subscripts from the beginning of the alphabet are used to indicate spatial loci. Nouns, pronouns and verbs of location are marked with subscript to indicate the loci at which they are signed in planes of signing space (BOYa). Inflected verbs are marked with an initial subscript to mark origin location; a final subscript indicates endpoint location (aGIVEb). Subscripts with a hyphen indicate a plural index (SIGNb-d).


Home/Appendix/Notation Conventions