Time, Date and Days of the Week
Once you have mastered some very basic vocabulary for sign language you will want to expand on it. A natural progression from basic introductions and that sort of things is to learn the words for telling the time saying dates and days of the week. Then you can begin to form sentences about what time to meet, when you are doing things and future plans.
TimeWords pertaining to the time are always useful. Once you know them you can arrange to meet up with friends at a set time or say at what time something happened. Numbers are portrayed in the usual way, with finger spelling shapes. But others words which are used for the time are more complex and are also useful to know in order to be able to make plans. When trying to tell the time, you need words such as to and past so that you can say quarter, or fifteen, past and half, or thirty, past. The word to, when talking about time is the primary hand pointing across the body and moving forwards. To say past in a time context, the primary hand is held upright and then flops over at the wrist. Others time-related words you might need include afternoon, which is said by holding two fingers to your chin and bringing them down in a downward arc. Morning is said by pointing at the opposite shoulder and then at the shoulder the same side as the finger. Evening is portrayed by two fingers being held to the forehead and then moved to the chin.
DateMonths all have their own sign but most are done from a finger spelling basis and therefore are too complicated to describe. Most months use their initial letter as the basis and then add something afterwards to distinguish them form other months which use that same letter. Seasons are also useful for showing the date. Winter is said by holding arms at sides and making a slight shivering motion. Spring is said by holding one arm horizontally, palm inward and moving the other arm up behind it in an arc. Summer is putting the hand to the forehead and flicking it away, as if to indicate how hot it is. And autumn is portrayed by holding up one hand with the thumb out and zig zagging the other hand down from it – like falling leaves.
Days of the WeekDays of the week will always come in useful, from your teacher arranging the next class to asking someone when they want to meet up. And the seven signs for the names of the days of the week are short and easy to remember. Sundays sees the speaker clap their hands together twice. Monday is the sign for M tapped twice on the hand. For Tuesday, the index finger jabs the palm of the other hand twice. For Wednesday, the sign is the W sign twice, so fingers interlock, come apart and then interlock again. Thursday is T followed by H, that is, the index finger touching the base of the opposite hand followed by the palms skimming across each other. Friday is simply the index and middle fingers of one hand tapping the same fingers on the other hand. And finally, Saturday is the prime hand rubbing the back of the other hand while they are facing the chest.
Once you have mastered these few words, your vocabulary will be allowing you to carry out simple tasks and hold very basic conversations. This article uses the words as they are in British Sign Language to avoid confusion, although where finger spelling is used this is much the same wherever you are and whatever sign language you use.