Keep Track of Your ASL Subjects in Space - dummies

By Adan R. Penilla, Angela Lee Taylor

At home or out and about, you often talk about people who aren’t right there with you, and that’s the same whether you’re signing with American Sign Language (ASL) or speaking English.

For instance, at work, you may discuss with one of your co-workers how much you like your boss. When using Sign, you don’t have to be able to see someone (or something) to be able to talk about him, her, or it. (That’s a good thing, too. How else could you plan a surprise party for your spouse?)

All you have to do to discuss someone who isn’t physically present is assign that person a point in the space near your passive hand. You use the same sign for he, she, and it — your index finger extended in a pointing gesture. If the he, she, or it is nearby, you point your index finger at the person or thing, but if the person or thing isn’t in your general vicinity, you select a specific place in the space in front of you to sort of stand in for the person or thing.

In ASL, this sign isn’t gender-specific. You point to the same space every time you refer to the absent one. So if you want to sign about Buddy, fingerspell his name and point to your passive hand area.