What I'd like for you to do is to look at the picture -- this is classic picture. One of my favorite pictures of all times. I am intrigued by the female student who fingerspelled "B", primarily because of her left-handed (I am lefty).
NOTE FOR HEARIES: The female students were fingerspelling "Alabama", one letter per person.
Not only that, I want you to look at this particular girl who did the "B". Notice her pinkie finger? Even she signed "B", but her pinkie finger seems to split apart a little from the other three fingers.
Now, I noticed with Deaf people who used ASL as its primary communication on a daily basis, they also signed "B" with their pinkie finger split apart a little. I noticed that I have the same formation that this particular female student had with the "B" sign. If I look at my hand, I am able to force my pinkie finger to stick together with the other three fingers. But if I do not think about it and just pull "B", the pinkie finger just is still apart from the other fingers.
For a while, I wonder why. But I think I know why. Our pinkie finger is perhaps the most used in fingerspelling if you look at F, I, J and Y. We used the pinkie finger to fingerspell these four letters. We often stretched the pinkie finger to identify the letter clearly.
In other words, we abused our pinkie finger all right to an extent. I thought it was absolutely cool that in 1900s, Deaf people has that, and today in 2004, we still have that as well.