Basic Sign Language Phrases

Basic sign language to know includes emergency information, as well as some pleasantries so that you can hold up your end of a conversation.

Sign language can be tricky to learn, but if you are diligent it eventually will fall into place, and you'll be signing like a pro. Some of the phrases that you should learn at first include the signs for hello and goodbye, communicating your own name and knowing how to ask someone what their name is.

Learning Sign Language
The Web is a great resource for learning languages, but sign language isn't one of them. It's difficult to learn sign language without actually seeing how the signs are made, although you can learn some very simple phrases by watching online video.

To truly learn sign language, it's important to find an instructor or a detailed sign-language book with all of the hand shapes clearly outlined, so you can see how to correctly make the signs. A mirror is also a great tool for practicing sign language. The mirror is especially important when learning how to hold your hands properly so that the person you are talking to can follow what you are saying.

Practice in front of a mirror for a while before you use your newfound skills in public. To help you become fluent, watch as many video clips as possible that show sign language being demonstrated or being used in actual conversation.

Some Basic Sign Language Phrases

  • Greetings: Learn how to sign the words "hello" and "goodbye," as well as holiday greetings such as "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah."
  • Introductions: Knowing how to sign your own name is as important as asking someone what their name is. When you sign, you should also say the words aloud. Many people in the deaf community also read lips, which may help them understand what you're trying to say. It's easy to learn the signs for "My name is..." and "What's your name?" but you may need to learn the sign language alphabet, or at least some letters, to spell out your name.
  • Pleasantries: Real conversations begin with greetings, introductions and pleasantries. Pleasantries might be a few words about the weather, or you might want to ask about the other person's dayy. For instance, if you are at a party and want to start a conversation with sign, you might simply sign the words, "Are you having fun?"
  • Emergency information: Emergency information that is important to learn includes knowing how to ask if someone who looks ill is okay or if they need a doctor. Know how to sign the numbers 9-1-1 and how to ask if someone has a telephone, or if there is a doctor in the house.
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