Deaf Culture #7

The signs for male “gender” are:

The “masculine” area of the face is near the forehead.  There are mixed theories on the reason for this, some saying that it is because men tend to be taller than women, and others say that it starts with the sign for “boy” (resembling the brim of a baseball cap), and continues from there.

The signs for female “gender” are:

The “feminine” area of the face is near the chin.  There are also mixed theories regarding this, some saying (you guessed it!) that it is because women tend to be shorter than men, and others say that it starts with the sign for “girl” (resembling a tied bonnet string), and continues from there.

A person’s signing space is:

Generally, a person’s signing space is from the waist to the top of the head.  This gives ample room to set up the different 3-D elements of ASL.  As with anything else, signing space can vary somewhat from person to person.  Some of this is due to personal comfort, and others because of the type of signing that they are doing.  If you are on stage, signing for a large crowd, your signs and your signing space will be much larger.  Conversely, if you are signing on a TV or computer with a limited screen, having an intimate conversation, or signing with someone who has a limited field of vision, your signing space would be smaller.

The signs for niece and nephew are:

“Niece” and “nephew” are initialized, as are “cousin”, “aunt” and “uncle”.  These are also great examples of the gender division on the face, as gender is specified (and therefore the correct English word is chosen) by the signs location.

Which word is a natural gesture (Book, Train, Plane, Bike)?

If you didn’t know ASL, which gesture would you use in a game of Charades?  If you are like most people, you probably chose “book”.  The sign for book is “iconic”, meaning that it is a visual representation of an actual book.  You are miming opening a book to begin reading, which makes this a natural gesture.  Other examples include: “phone”, “listen”, “baseball cap”, and “hair”.