American Sign Language Dictionary

by Roberta Cooke

(PA, US)

Martin L.A. Sternberg’s, American Sign Language Dictionary is an excellent resource. The revised edition, copyrighted in 1998 and published by Harper Perennial (Harper Collins Publishers, Inc.) states that it contains over 1,500 new illustrations. I recently started studying ASL and have thoroughly enjoyed every minute and I wanted to purchase a dictionary that would contain amble vocabulary that I would not need to use several resources while studying. The book is not one you will carry around with you due to its size; I will use it as a study resource only. I was surprised to find the vocabulary to be quite up-to-date. The illustrations are understandable and clear; it is a must though, that you read the beginning of the text to understand the symbols used in the book. Each word is described with the audio phonetic pronunciation, the grammar of speech the word is used for; a complete description of the hand, finger positions and movements. Often there is a memory tip on how to remember the sign or what it represents (this I find extremely helpful). Last but equally important the explanation includes the other words or forms of the word that the sign also represents. Plus, of course, there are one or more illustrations to show the making of the sign. The only draw back to the book that I have found is that they often give several options for signing the same word and that may be a problem for me only because I am a beginner at signing. I look forward to using the book for years to come.

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