9 Pointing in BSL

English Notes
BSL Video

Pointing in BSL

Pointing has an important role in BSL. It is used primarily to identify people or objects and to place them in space or time. Hearing people may have been taught that pointing is rude and may feel uncomfortable about doing it at first. However, pointing is part of BSL and is therefore acceptable.

Here are some tips:

1. Point with a straight, firm index finger. You cannot make yourself clear if your finger is limp or bent, or if you use another handshape for pointing.

2. Pointing should not be done too close or too far from the body. The arm is only stretched out when your pointing is for emphasis or to get attention at a distance.

3. Deaf people do not mind being pointed at, but if you point at someone who is looking at you, then you should be prepared to explain why you are pointing.

4. Pointing is also used to refer to people or things that are not in sight. By paying close attention to the pointing movement, including the signer's use of eye gaze, you will learn to recognise the way pointing works in BSL.


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