In American Sign Language, chair and sit are two of the most common signs used by speakers. They are also two of the most important. Use them wisely and you’ll be well on your way to signing success!
Getting Started with ASL
To sign chair, bring one hand up about chest height and tuck in your ring and pinky fingers. Leave your middle finger and pointer fingers extended out. Now stack your extended fingers on top of each other and tap a couple of times.
The Best Way to Learn the Sign
For the most part, a child will need direct feedback in order to learn a new sign. The best way to do this is to have them practice it over and over again. This is especially true for kids with special needs, who will need a lot of extra guidance to ensure that they are properly executing their sign.
ASL does have a limited number of concatenative affixes, and most of these are articulated simultaneously rather than sequentially as in spoken languages. This is called morphology, and is largely responsible for the baffling ways that ASL enables speakers to communicate ideas in new ways.
Hand Shape and Movement
The ASL hand shape that arguably catches the eye is the curved H-handshape for the sign SIT (or squat, crouch, or sit). This particular handshape is symbolic in that it represents the surface of a chair. It is reminiscent of the X-handshape for STRIKE, MATCH, or STAPLE-WITH-STAPLER, and even the C-handshape for SEAT, LOUNGE, and KNEEL.
Using the Handshape to Teach About ASL
The curved handshape is most commonly referred to as the h-hand, which is not an acronym but an abbreviation of the term “hand configuration”. This hand shape translates to a “bent-V” in English, and it is a great example of how an ASL feature can be interpreted as a phonological feature instead of a sound like a word or an accented /f/.