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Unread 04-13-2005, 09:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Sign language, regional differences

Many Deaf people in my local area are originally from other parts of the USA. They use signs that are different from our signs. I am curious. How do you sign the following words?

1. truck

2. chocolate

3. computer

4. chicken

5. plastic

6. rubber (as a rubber ball)

7. ministry

8. Navy

9. white person/Caucasian

Any other differences that you have noticed?
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Unread 04-13-2005, 11:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have clients who sign things different ways, so I'll mention all the ways I might sign something. Usually I go off the client's sign, and some of them are very English. What are your signs?

1. truck

mime turning a big horizontal steering wheel; C-handshapes "draw" long shape of truck over right shoulder (like many people sign BUS); same thing with T-handshapes

2. chocolate

Right C-handshape circles on top of left fist, like CHURCH only circling not tapping. Sometimes sign VANILLA this way with a V-handshape.

3. computer

Lots of signs for this. C taps at head; C hops up left arm like sign for IMPROVE; open-8 hands circle inward or outward, facing out; open-8 hands circle inward or outward, facing down. I was told by a Deaf computer professional that in his community they do it the last way, but I tend to do it with the hands palm out so as not to get confused with TAPE RECORDER. (The hands do move differently for that though.)

4. chicken

Same as BIRD, thumb and index open and close at nose.

5. plastic

Either sign FLEXIBLE or fingerspell.

6. rubber (as a rubber ball)

X-handshape pulls away from cheek and back. (Hmm, kinda similar to SEX.)

7. ministry

Don't have a sign for this; I'd probably sign whatever denomination, then CHURCH.

8. Navy

Hard to explain...kind of like PANTS only the handshapes give the feel of the flared trousers they wear.

9. white person/Caucasian

Either just WHITE, or WHITE and then open handshape as if "throwing" the white onto the face. I do the latter when referring to my own specific skin color, which is pretty pale.
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Unread 04-13-2005, 11:53 AM   #3 (permalink)
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These are the sign versions I have seen:

1. truck: (SC signers) bent 5-hand, palm up, repeated stroke under chin (like HAY);
or English signers use "T" CAR sign.

2. chocolate: (SC signers) "C" at dominant side of chin, similar to SWEET;
(non-SC signer) dominant "C" hand circles back surface of flat hand, palm down.

3. computer: dominant "C" hand repeats on lower arm similar to IMPROVE but in a more circular short motion.

4. chicken: (SC signers) dominant "3" hand taps the side of the chin; "rooster" (and Carolina Game Cock for USC) is dominant "3" hand taps the middle of the forehead (showing the rooster's comb).
Other signers use BIRD sign.

5. plastic: (SC signers) spell;
other signer uses GLASS sign tapping upper lip.

6. rubber: (SC signers) use sign similar to SEX.
other signer uses GLASS sign tapping below lower lip.

7. ministry: (SC church members) sometimes "M" SERVICE, sometimes "M" CHURCH.

8. Navy: (SC signers) "N" SALUTE;
other signer "N", left hip, to right hip, to front right thigh (indicating the 13-button trouser flap on the uniform)

9. white person: My SC teacher showed me PEACH for Caucasion person, and WHITE thrown-on-the-face for PALE; but I have seen most Deaf here use WHITE, usually added to BOY, GIRL, MAN, WOMAN, PERSON, etc.
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Unread 04-13-2005, 05:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Sign variations

I am taking ASL in college now, but I also work with a Deaf man, so I practice signing with him on almost a daily basis. I had a few questions regarding variations in signs, and why there are different signs for the same thing, or maybe its regional? Oh well, I will get to the point.

Signing "Australia"

The way my coworker showed me this is where you made the sign that looks like an Australian hat, but my teacher showed me today at school a different sign that was like two kangaroos jumping forward, that is made with the two open hands, palm facing down, and the middle fingers pointing down as you move each hand simultaneously forward, making a circle.

Signing "China"

The way my coworker showed me this one is where you touch the left shoulder with the right index finger, and then touch your right shoulder, and drag the index finger down towards your hip. But again, my teacher today showed us a way in which you do it in the same direction, but it is with the "no" handshape, rather than an index finger, and she touched her left shoulder, right shoulder, and then down towards her hip.

Sorry I am not the best with describing how the signs are made, but I was just curious as to if these are olders signs, or regional variations, or something along those lines.

Tegumi
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Unread 04-13-2005, 07:14 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've seen both variations on AUSTRALIA you mention. I believe the second one is Australian Sign Language for their country; the fashion now is to use countries' own signs for themselves so you may see that more and more. But I still see the other one as well.

I've only ever seen CHINA signed the first way you mention, never seen it with the "no" handshape. Perhaps that is Chinese sign, which I've never seen.

People often correct me because I sign SUSHI the way a Deaf man from Japan taught me, which is right hand U hitting left hand closed fist (fingers facing up). I guess the American sign has the U shape slapping into the left palm, but it makes more sense to me the other way...like the fist is the rice, and the U is the fish. The American sign seems more lke SASHIMI (no rice).
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Unread 04-13-2005, 08:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
I've seen both variations on AUSTRALIA you mention. I believe the second one is Australian Sign Language for their country; the fashion now is to use countries' own signs for themselves so you may see that more and more. But I still see the other one as well.
Same here. I have seen both. Using countries' own sign names is more PC and encouraged now, but the old sign names die hard, especially if the old ones are simpler.

Quote:
I've only ever seen CHINA signed the first way you mention, never seen it with the "no" handshape. Perhaps that is Chinese sign, which I've never seen.
I have seen the sign used with either the index finger, or the flattened-O hand. I am not familiar with Chinese signs either. I suspect though, that native Chinese would not represent their country with a sign that is an iconic representation to Westerners. It seems they would use a sign that is more meaningful to the Asian spirit. Just IMHO. I could be totally off the wall.

Quote:
People often correct me because I sign SUSHI the way a Deaf man from Japan taught me, which is right hand U hitting left hand closed fist (fingers facing up). I guess the American sign has the U shape slapping into the left palm, but it makes more sense to me the other way...like the fist is the rice, and the U is the fish. The American sign seems more lke SASHIMI (no rice).
Those signs I don't know. This is shrimp-n-grits country (remember Forest Gump's shrimp boat?). Sushi is called "bait" here, ha, ha.
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Unread 04-13-2005, 10:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba
I suspect though, that native Chinese would not represent their country with a sign that is an iconic representation to Westerners. It seems they would use a sign that is more meaningful to the Asian spirit.
That is surely true. I know the old sign, like those for other Asian countries, related to the shape of the eyes, which I guess is considered insulting now but I still see people using it (with completely inoffensive intent). I understood that the left-right-down sign related to the shape of the old jackets, but I don't know if that originated there or here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba
Those signs I don't know. This is shrimp-n-grits country (remember Forest Gump's shrimp boat?). Sushi is called "bait" here, ha, ha.
Out here on the Left Coast we need to know this kind of thing. But I have no idea how to sign GRITS!
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Unread 04-14-2005, 07:43 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My being born in Philadelphia metro area, I have noticed the differences between NJ and Utah...

1. truck
NJ: bent 3 RH going right on forehead
UT: both hands T (SEE), or fingerspelled

2. chocolate
NJ/UT: almost like church, but RH C-shape going in a circle motion

3. computer
NJ/UT: RH C-shape going down left arm
Canada: like "basketball" in ASL but in lower area

4. chicken
NJ/UT: bird

5. plastic
NJ: "P" on chin, like metal (perhaps SEE), also "flexible"
UT: fingerspelled

6. rubber (as a rubber ball)
NJ/UT: sign like "shave" or fingerspell

7. ministry
NJ: "M" serve

8. Navy
NJ/UT: like clipping something on pants both sides

9. white person/Caucasian
NJ/UT: same as Reba

Any other differences that you have noticed?

TEMPLE
Normal sign is "T" on left fist, but Mormon temple is signed differently, almost like "when"

SLOPPY
NJ: dirty
UT: farm

SNOW
NJ: signing "rain" gently
UT: "white" "rain"
Canada: RH middle finger touching chest

Cant think of more at the moment but I have seen a lot of variations between UT and NJ.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 08:11 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuifje75
My being born in Philadelphia metro area, I have noticed the differences between NJ and Utah...

Cant think of more at the moment but I have seen a lot of variations between UT and NJ.
Thanks. Very interesting. I guess there are many Mormon-specific signs in UT. That makes sense.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 08:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
...But I have no idea how to sign GRITS!
Yankees spell GRITS, with appropriate facial expression (wrinkled nose); Southeners sign HEAVEN FOOD, with appropriate facial expression (mmm, yumm), ha, ha. Our pastor says that "manna" in the Bible is grits.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 08:18 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Talking I agree sign language is different

I'm an interpreter myself and I've seen people sign words differentlly.
In England they use BSL, like here in the US we use ASL.
They have many kinds of sign languages in the world.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 10:09 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Starbucks is signed differently in different places.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 12:37 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba
Yankees spell GRITS, with appropriate facial expression (wrinkled nose)
Am I the only Yankee who LOVES grits? I had no idea!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nesmuth
Starbucks is signed differently in different places.
I've seen the two 8-hands flicking at each other (do you know the origin of that sign? I've always wondered), and I've seen STAR+MONEY (as a joke)...what are some of the other signs, if you can describe them?

I learned most of my sign on the West Coast so I don't know too much about U.S. regional differences, but with such a large immigrant population here I have gotten to see various foreign sign languages, which is neat.

One time I went back to New York and saw two signers in conversation at a museum. I could understand some of what they signed, like their fingerspelling, but was having a really hard time with a lot of it. So I went over to say hello and mentioned how surprised I was at the strong difference between East Coast and West Coast sign.

Turned out they were FRENCH. ASL is derived from LSF, which is why I could understand some but not most. Nice couple of guys; we mostly fingerspelled as they didn't know much ASL.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 01:46 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Interpretrator
Am I the only Yankee who LOVES grits? I had no idea!
I am a transplanted Yankee, so I am learning to love grits, especially with cheese or with local shrimp.


Quote:
I've seen the two 8-hands flicking at each other (do you know the origin of that sign? I've always wondered), and I've seen STAR+MONEY (as a joke)...
Believe it or not, I haven't seen any Starbucks signs. That two 8-hands sign must have an interesting origin. I love the Star "bucks" sign!

I agree, I would like to see Nesmuth's Starbucks signs, too.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 08:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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What a co-incidence I just got back here
from the Starbucks ! Another word with
many various signs: Birthday.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 08:54 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Dang, they still tell the myth of Signs being the same worldwide??
I met deaf visitors from Italy and Russia and my mind is still reeling from puzzlement and embarrassment.
I swear to God, I had no idea "sweet" is "sex".
Merde.
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Unread 04-14-2005, 09:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Y
What a co-incidence I just got back here from the Starbucks ! Another word with many various signs: Birthday.
Yes, birthday. Some sign it BIRTH + DAY, and some sign it using the "sensitive" hand, touching the middle finger to the chin then chest.

Even the sign BIRTH. Some sign it similar to ARRIVE, and some sign it similar to ENTER.

How do you sign Starbucks?
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Unread 04-14-2005, 09:51 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beowulf
Dang, they still tell the myth of Signs being the same worldwide??
No, I was not under that impression. It was just that LSF looked very similar to ASL in terms of handshapes and such (for example, the alphabets are close to identical, unlike, say, British Sign Language which uses a 2-hand alphabet that I can never get the hang of) so I thought I was looking at two American signers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reba
Yes, birthday. Some sign it BIRTH + DAY, and some sign it using the "sensitive" hand, touching the middle finger to the chin then chest.
I've also seen a sign which looks almost like MUSIC: touch the right B-hand face down to left biceps, and then face up to left forearm. (Does that make sense?)
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Unread 04-15-2005, 01:29 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm a sign student from California, learning in California. It seems like in both the hearing and deaf population of the U.S, California starts a lot of the new "slang", much of which later becomes legitimate words, though with deaf I would assume there is a lot of slang started in DC and Rochester as well.
There are a lot of variations with signs, and not only regionally! I had 2 deaf sign teachers, at two different levels, teaching from the same vocabulary lists and I learned two totally different sets of signs. A few of them were the same, but many weren't.
My first teacher was oral until age 18, grew up in FLA, and learned ASL at Gally. She moved to CA 35 years ago. My second teacher is 5th generation deaf, (he's actually HOH), grew up in WIS, and he moved here about 15 years ago. They sign SO differently. I went to a free ASL tutor, deaf, after I had taken the class with the second teacher, and she was having some trouble tutoring other students because she couldn't remember which teacher signed which way! I remembered a lot of which signs went with which teacher, and I helped some, but she still got confused sometimes. These were 2 teachers, at the same school, both deaf, and both teaching from the same list. For me, the classes were really helpful, because I learned a lot about the different ways people sign; but for many students, it was very confusing.
I have noticed a lot of variety in the LOAN signs. Some deaf include all the letters, some don't. There are 2 (at least) different ways to loan sign "STYLE," I think this is the perfect example.
Also the ASL sign for "blow up, lose ur temper" has 2 signs (at least). Here, in CA, the sign for "fabric" and "land" is the same- but it isn't everywhere. We also have a lot of signs for mexican food, like tacos, that are not used across the US. The sign for TACO here is the sign for SANDWICH in the midwest. The list could go on and on.
Also though, what we have to remember, is how many synonyms there are for words in English. So many hearing students complain about deaf people's different sign styles, but I think we hearing have just as many different speaking styles. Okay, adios,
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Unread 04-15-2005, 06:32 PM   #20 (permalink)
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i noticed that my interpreters in my life have different signs for the same word. here are the words

computer
plug
turn on (both ASL and Signed English)
true
doing
did (ASL like sign "past")
yesterday (both ASL and Signed English)
explore
look
watch
hot
cold
focus
hear
mom (wriggle fingers)
dad (wriggle fingers)
time


more to come soon

I understand their lips, but sometimes the signs are confusing to me.
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Unread 04-15-2005, 06:52 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beowulf
Dang, they still tell the myth of Signs being the same worldwide??
I met deaf visitors from Italy and Russia and my mind is still reeling from puzzlement and embarrassment.
I swear to God, I had no idea "sweet" is "sex".
Merde.
really? When my hearing friend is trying to learn sexual signs in ASL, I showed him the different sign for "penis" and that is in Signed English. he said that my sign is wrong, but he doesn't understand why I use Signed English more than ASL. SEE is better for reading/writing and communicating with hearing people while ASL is being used by the deaf culture.
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Unread 05-02-2005, 01:17 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Truck - Y hand formation and sort of brushes against your other elbow.

Store - looks like the sign for "cherish", but the hand moves a few times.

Laundry - same sign as Sweden

Soon - Use a clawed number three hand shape. Place thumb on side of chin, then flick wrist back.

Supposedly 37 different signs for grey. I sign grey same as whatever.

What - wag index finger back forth (outside of my state - this means where)

Where - Open hand, palms out, shake back and forth.

Birthday - we use Birth + day, but have seen about 10 different ways of signing Birthday - making some sort of flicking motion over your heart.

Computer - looks like mercy but hands go in circles.

Rain and snow 2 different signs - look very similiar. Most often, the sign for snow starts with the hands touching the shoulders.

Popcorn - depends on your generation. I use 2 different signs for popcorn. Most often, left hand has V hand formation and right hand had number one formation. The finger of my right hand then taps the the inside of the V. But another sign I use for popcorn looks like I am holding the handle and lid of a pan and shaking it over the pan.

Wolf - With a letter D hand formation, rest the finger against one nostril.

Laugh - B hand formation and slide diagonally up and down. Bottom part of hand on one side of chin and the top part of the hand on the other side of the mouth.
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Unread 05-02-2005, 01:56 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Very interesting.

Which region are you in? Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, West?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daft
Truck - Y hand formation and sort of brushes against your other elbow.
Is that similar to COUNTRY?

Quote:
Store - looks like the sign for "cherish", but the hand moves a few times.
Is the "store" such as "to put into storage", or do you mean "a place to shop"? I have seen that sign used to "store" something such as to "I am going to store my jewelry in the bank vault."


Quote:
Supposedly 37 different signs for grey. I sign grey same as whatever.
I usually use the "G" "sideburn" version.

Quote:
Where - Open hand, palms out, shake back and forth.
Yes, I have seen that sign also. We usually use it to mean "where is the object or person". Such as, "your book, where?" We use the other where (index finger) for places, such as where a person was born or works.

Quote:
Computer - looks like mercy but hands go in circles.
Yeah, the "good old days" using a computer mainframe with tape reels.


Quote:
Popcorn - depends on your generation. I use 2 different signs for popcorn.
We use the two index fingers alternating "flicking" upward, showing the "popping" action.
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Unread 05-02-2005, 02:30 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Hi, Reba.


I am in the Midwest.

Yes, "truck" sort of looks like "country".

The sign for "store" looking like "cherish" - store as in a place to shop.

I much prefer the old-fashioned ASL signs. Sometimes a new sign will come up which is really sort of cool. For example, some of the kids around here started a new sign for "Subway restuarant". With C-handshapes, the mime eating a huge sandwich.

Something which is sort of bizarre. Most of the kids today are going to mainstreamed schools and when they speak with the adults, the kids are getting sort of confused because of the SEE signs which get tossed in.

Most people here sign Chinese with an index finger to the temple. I showed one of the older deaf people the new sign for Chinese - the one which looks like buttons on the front of a shirt. She rolled her eyes and laughed. She had never seen the sign before and never planned on using it.
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Unread 05-02-2005, 03:03 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daft
.... Most of the kids today are going to mainstreamed schools and when they speak with the adults, the kids are getting sort of confused because of the SEE signs which get tossed in.
Yes, I have noticed that also. I am a terp, and often Deaf clients request ASL interpretting. However, after I begin signing with them, I realize that they are not signing ASL but actually SEE/PSE combinations. The schools tell the students that they are teaching them ASL but they are not.

Quote:
Most people here sign Chinese with an index finger to the temple. I showed one of the older deaf people the new sign for Chinese - the one which looks like buttons on the front of a shirt. She rolled her eyes and laughed. She had never seen the sign before and never planned on using it.
Most of the Deaf in my area know and use the new signs for China, Japan, and Africa. But they still use "black", not "African-American", and the old signs for most other countries such as Australia and Russia.
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