ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library | Volume 1, Issue 13, August 2004 | William G. Vicars Ed.D., Editor


● Yellow Gold in California?
● Better to create than not
● Where to find a low cost ASL dictionary
● Deaf in Pakistan (Penpal anyone?)
● Heariing Teachers / Deaf Teachers
● "Please" on the face, not on the hands
●  "Ripe"
● Signing in water
● Mental Tracing
● Give him a wallet
● Two handed "fine" is "very well"
● How to get into the school of your choice
● You are a pig
● finding local events--ask a local deaf person or ASL teacher
● A bearded Jew?

● A Deaf Comedienne
● Vegetarian

● courtesy titles

Hello ASL Heroes!

     It has been a great summer!  And now it's shaping up to be a great fall semester.  Belinda (my wife) recently got her degree (bachelors) and started teaching at Sac State (CSUS) as an adjunct.  Many people don't realize that it is often easier to get a job teaching ASL at a college than it is to get a job teaching ASL at a high school.  The pay range varies wildly--from $20 to $90 an hour and up for part time work.  (Those numbers are misleading though.  You need to factor in additional preparation time and course administration.  It takes many hours to grade papers and deal with student issues.) 

     Generally the pay is better at 4-year universities than 2-year colleges.  Most of the time you need at least a bachelors degree, but not always.  The smaller, less rigorous, or more desperate a program is, the more lenient they become.  Here in Northern California it seems that the general minimum for a part-time college teaching position is a bachelors plus "any" certification indicating you know ASL.  For a 3-semester credit class you might earn around $3,600 to $4,200.  That's nice work if you can get it, eh?  The trick is getting enough part-time work to support yourself. 

     I know people that teach six to eight courses by working for two or three colleges.  The math works out to about 18 courses a year when you include summer half-time work.  18 times $3,600 comes out to $64,800.  More if they are on a higher pay scale. Nice money if you have the stamina and a good car.  I pity their students though. Oh, that isn't to say some "busy" instructors aren't also extremely good.

     I remember many years ago teaching in an other state before I had my various degrees--I used to teach up to 12 different classes a week! Sometimes more. (Impossible you say?  Heh.) Four for the college, two or three for community education programs, plus six for my own sign language studio.   I was younger then.  I'm still pretty energetic, but I'm not interested in going back to that pace.

     Take care folks,

Dr. Bill
p.s.  If you are interested in more information regarding how to get paid (or paid more) for teaching ASL, you might want to get my 62 page report: "How to make a decent living teaching ASL."  ($10 plus processing). See the bookstore or cut and paste
 (make sure to get the whole thing, including the hyphen).

***Yellow, Gold, and California?

In a message dated 7/22/2004 7:39:39 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Mr. Bill Vicars,
    I was wondering if you might be able to help me with
the sign difference between Yellow, Gold, and California.
I have an idea on how they would be signed but I just want
your insight on it.  Thanks for your time.

Yellow uses a double twist of the dominant "Y" hand. (This is the common hearing American gesture for "hang loose.")
Gold points to the earlobe with either the index finger of an "ILY" (I love you) hand, or it points with the middle finger of an open "5" hand, or it points with a normal index finger THEN it changes into a "Y" hand and does either a single or a double twist.
California uses the same sign as gold.  A memory aid is that "California is the golden state."
Another memory aid is that "gold earrings" (which are traditionally worn in the earlobe) are yellow.  The movement for gold points at the earlobe then signs yellow.
When taught in isolation by an ASL teacher the sign is often portrayed as having a double twist.  But it has been my observation that the movement of the sign "California" tends to use a single twist when done as part of a sentence by a skilled signer. 
Additionally, there is an initialized version of the sign for gold that uses a "G" hand instead of the "Y" hand.
Have a nice day,
Dr. Vicars
Note: If you liked this answer, you might also like my book:

***Better to create than not

In a message dated 7/21/2004 7:20:54 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Good morning Bill:
I rec'd the CDs [ASL 101 - 103], and I must say that it is very interesting. Actually, it's a little comical. I really felt at home. I could hear the birds sing, airplanes, little children's voices, a spoon drop, and a door close. It really made my day...when I was down and depressed, it made me laugh!  Thank you Bill, for making my day a happy one!!
Respectfully yours,
Cecilia Kelley
Heh, er...and here I figured I had succeeded in finding a quiet place to do my recording.  I guess I'm "deafer" than I thought.  Those CDs give new meaning to the term "home-made."

I decided a long time ago that it was better to go ahead and create something of value albeit with imperfections, than to live in fear--and produce nothing.
Take care,

***Where to find a low cost ASL dictionary

In a message dated 7/23/2004 12:48:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

do u know where i can get an asl dictionary for cheep if u can email me back and give me your response plz

You can borrow them for FREE from your local library.

***Deaf in Pakistan (Penpal anyone?)

To, Dear Sir,
How are you? I am grateful that you have taken the time to read this letter and listen to my story. My name is sohail ilyas I am 22 and have been deaf since birth. As you may know, here in Pakistan the provisions for people of this handicap and of most handicaps for that matter are shamefully less than adequate, but I have learnt not to look on my self as greatly handicapped. Thanks to hard from both my caring parents, and myself and of course the by grace of god, I have conquered most of the difficuities involved with being deaf.
Growing up, I went to the same deaf schools most deaf children go to, but which regrettably, were- and still are-well below the education standard I have come to acknowledge as a necessity to any successful life. (Hamza Foundation Academy)  10th years finish. Soahil’ board of intermediate & secondary education, Lahore, Sohail’ pass 666 successful happy.I attended Hamza Foundation Academy, a college for deaf students, in my teen years, which was a milestone in my education although they did not teach my friends and me a subject we all greatly desired to learn, something becoming increasingly imperative these days and that is computer education. Then just a about a year ago, I heard of a small school bye the name of DEAF REACH TRAINING CENTER, that taught English and computer skills to Martin
I was the first student to enroll, finding it wonderful to absorb all the skills they could teach me, thing I never learned before and I couldn’t get enough of. For nine months I studied there, working on my English and Computer Applications, while helping the other students who found it harder to understand what was being taught. My appetite for learning, and the initiative I took in it, as well as the fact that I was starting to coach the others, was soon noticed by the Director and landed me a job as assistant teacher.
I pray to god to help me pas for me study, I am prayers, Sohail gives salam  and love to his, write me from your college and send to me, Sohail take care  of your self,
please send me my education sponsor letter
 Sohail Ilyas
34/13 ferozepur road
Lahore, Pakistan

*** ASL vs. Hearing Instructors

Hi Dr. Bill-

 I am a certified NAD interpreter and have taught ASL at our local community college along with another colleague who is also hearing.  I found the thread on ASL teacher interesting, but there is another thing to consider here...that is teaching and educational requirements for teaching at the college level.  That is not to say that deaf people have less qualifications than hearing, but this was our situation.

 At our community college, it was required that instructors not only have a master's degree, but have a master's in an area such as linguistics, deaf ed, deaf rehab or ASL.  Therefore, we had some excellent members of the deaf community that were great teachers that could not teach their language due to the cert. requirements.  Only two of us had that in my local area and we are both interpreters!

 It made it a difficult situation; I always struggled with whether I should be teaching the class or not and had difficulty at times with some criticism I received from deaf folks who were angry with the college's requirements.  However, I really believe that having ASL I from people who were at least comfortable with the language was better than not having it at all. So, I did the best I could. I encouraged members of the deaf community to participate and tried to think of myself as a conduit and link to the ASL as a language, not an expert.  I also tried to integrate a lot of Deaf culture "deaf way" ideas into my classes.  It seemed to go well, and I am not sure that in actuality, deaf or hearing made a difference.  I think skill in instructing makes probably the biggest impact and comfort with the subject.

 In addition, I wanted to make one other comment about ASL signs; one thing my students struggled with A LOT and I also struggled with in teaching was the "no one sign" approach.  They had difficulty understanding regional signing differences and often my students would say "but, they signed it THIS way in the book...."  I tried to let them know that signing is both very contextual and often makes logical sense pictorally; they should consider the whole sentence, not just each individual sign. Also, unlike in English, sometimes they just had to know many different signs for one concept (think of signs for "birthday" many do you know?)    I also tried to support ASL as a language not just as fun and pretty.  In this past year, I had some students who took ASL as "easy" credit or confused it with the recent popularity of baby sign videos that are more pidgin.  That was a hard transition for some! 

 I would refer them to your website as I felt you provided great support and variations of things...thanks for being there!!   PAH!!

 Melissa of Oregon


*** The sign for please means something different to Deaf than it does to hearing.

In a message dated 7/13/2004 4:12:27 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Hey Bill !!

I haven't been working my sign ASL good .. Caz i sign ASL by the sencense limit . Pls , you give me learn from the papers of sencese free . Thanks you alot ..

Hi Thaotheresa,
I normally don't publish "thank you" notes, but I thought this would be a good example of understanding deaf culture and "Deaf ASL." 
I want to point out something about the sign "PLEASE."
Deaf people know, the sign "PLEASE" is a variation of the sign ENJOY and/or APPRECIATE. 

Most Deaf people don't use the sign for PLEASE like hearing people use the spoken word "please" in everyday conversations.  We Deaf use our facial expressions and inflect our signs to show that we are sincere and humble in our requests.  I do occasionally see the sign "PLEASE" used as a stand-alone "second chance" response to a denial. For example, if I ask my wife to make my favorite food dish and she turns me down I might plaintively look at her and sign "PLEASE" in a very long drawn out fashion.  But it is rare to use the sign PLEASE in an initial request. Instead you'll often see the sign "YOU-MIND?"

*** "Ripe"

In a message dated 7/14/2004 10:08:28 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Good Morning Dr. Bill:

I enjoy your newsletter and would like to ask you how to sign the word
"ripe" as in ripe fruits.  I think it is the same word as grow but I
could not find it in any book.  Thank you for your help.


Most of us would just spell, "R-I-P-E."
Depending on the specific fruit or vegetable you might talk about its characteristics.  For example, if you are talking about a banana and you want to indicate that it isn't ripe you would state that it is green.  Or you might make one or more of the following comments regarding a piece of fruit or a vegetable to indicate the degree of ripeness:
I'd be willing to entertain the idea of using the sign "PUMPKIN / MELON" (thumping the back of your hand) to mean "ripe." Of course this would have to be used in context.
Dr. Vicars


*** Signing in water

In a message dated 7/19/2004 4:35:31 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

I am a swim instructor. I have just gotten a  young girl in which I have to sign to. I was hoping that if you can give a suggestion on signing to her in water from 11 to 15 feet. This only allows the shoulders and head of both of us to be out of water. We are having a hard time understanding each other well  we are both in the water together. If you can give me any suggestions it would be a great help.Thank you.
If it were me, I'd do as much of my communication as possible prior to getting in the water.  Explain things on deck or on shore.  If you are trying to teach her how to float or do some sort of swimming stroke, do so while standing in a more shallow part of the pool.
If you "have to" communicate with her in the water from 11 to 15 feet away for a sporting event, then perhaps you could develop system where one sign means a whole concept.  (Similar to the way baseball coaches, catchers, and pitchers use small signals to communicate quickly and efficiently.)  This takes preparation and work before getting in the water.
If you are a beginning signer, then you might want to find pictures that explain and show what you are trying to communicate.  Then laminate the pictures to protect them from the wet environment. 
You might want to use another student as a model to work with the girl.  The model would swim near the deaf girl and you would yell your instructions to the model who would follow your instructions.  The deaf girl could watch the model to see what she should be doing.
If she is having a hard time seeing your signs because you are submerged, how about putting a ladder or some other object under you to lift you out of the water so she can see you better?
Lastly, depending on your situation and your signing abilities (or lack thereof) you (or your school) may be legally obligated to provide (and pay for) a qualified interpreter.
Dr. Bill

* Mental Tracing

In a message dated 7/14/2004 4:35:28 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Hi Dr. Vicars,

I must say that I really enjoyed every bit of your
Newsletter.  Please post more of it.

Actually, I have been learning sign language for a period of 18 months or thereabout, although I have not been steady.  Besides, I find it difficult to translate some phrases and sentences.  What do u think I can to improve myself because I feel I have learned
it long enough to be able to use it so well.  Please your timely advice will be greatly appreciated.

Hi Joan,
If for some reason the "whole" newsletter didn't make it through to your email box, you can find the newsletter in its entirety at listed over on the left.
If you've been studying for a year and a half and are not satisfied with your skills, here are some ideas:
Attend more ASL classes
Use Videotapes from the library
Find a deaf friend and engage in long conversations
Get a large ASL dictionary and study every word --this will help you recognize the words when you see them used by Deaf people.
Most importantly, you've got to learn to think in ASL during your spare moments.  When you are just sitting around, standing in line, eating, reading, or any other activity, translate it in your head to ASL.
Also, whenever you watch someone signing, in addition to trying to figure out their meaning, you should be consciously imagining what it would be like to make those same movements.  For example: if you see someone do the sign "LEARN" you should mentally rehearse doing the sign "LEARN" in your mind. I call this, "mental tracing."  By mentally tracing as you watch other signers communicate you will be exercising your brain's neural network so that later it will be easier for you to recall and actually produce those signs. 
Have you ever "replayed" a song in your mind?  If so, then use this same principle to replay sign language in your mind.  And then use that same principle to imagine your hands making the same movements.


*** Give him a wallet

AshleyReed2005 [8:13 PM]:  Hi, Dr. Vicars? I'm Ashley, long-time reader, first time caller. I have a question and wonder if you have a minute to answer it for me.
BillVicars [8:13 PM]:  Hi. What's your question?  :)
AshleyReed2005 [8:15 PM]:  my mother works at an assisted living home, and we have a man who is deaf, but none of the staff can sign, so i try to go in when i can to talk to him; he's very lonely. He frequently uses a sign that i know i have seen before, but i can't place it
BillVicars [8:15 PM]:  What does it look like?
AshleyReed2005 [8:16 PM]:  he covers his fist in an s shape with his flat palm.
BillVicars [8:16 PM]:  okay...let's brainstorm here... Could be the sign for "stress" or "pressure."  If it is lunchtime perhaps he is doing the second half of the sign for "soda pop?"  A third concept might be "ketchup."
AshleyReed2005 [8:17 PM]:  he usually uses it in conjunction with signs about paying, because sometimes he wants to give me something for talking with him.
BillVicars [8:17 PM]:  Is he right handed?
AshleyReed2005 [8:17 PM]:  yes
BillVicars [8:18 PM]:  Is his left hand in an "S" shape?
AshleyReed2005 [8:18 PM]:  yes
BillVicars [8:18 PM]:  is the palm of his left hand (if the hand was open) pointing down or pointing right?
AshleyReed2005 [8:19 PM]:  the palm faces down, and sometimes he'll slide it away from his body across left hand
BillVicars [8:19 PM]:  ah...backing up....I was asking about the left hand. The palm of the left "fist or  "S" hand is pointing what direction?
AshleyReed2005 [8:20 PM]:  ah, i beg pardon. thumb goes toward the right.
BillVicars [8:20 PM]:  So, the thumb-side of the left hand is "up." So, if the thumb points to the right...that means the palm does too and the thumb-side is on top... okay... now the right hand...
AshleyReed2005 [8:20 PM]:  yes.
BillVicars [8:21 PM]:  is it spread fingers or are the fingers together?
AshleyReed2005 [8:21 PM]:  together
BillVicars [8:21 PM]:  So, it is more of a "B" than a "5."
BillVicars [8:21 PM]:  If it is sliding away from his body over the surface of the top of the left "S" hand that means "enough" or "plenty." He might even be using it to mean "full."  The sign "full" though generally moves toward the body though.
AshleyReed2005 [8:22 PM]:  i think i've got his meaning.  I think he was saying he has enough money to pay me for chatting with him and translating for him.
The whole time he was fishing for his wallet, but he hasn't had one in years. he's also got dementia, and repeats things a lot.
BillVicars [8:24 PM]:  Alrighty...sounds like you are on the right track.
AshleyReed2005 [8:25 PM]:  yes, thank you very much for helping! i knew i should have known that sign. i'm glad we've got it now.
BillVicars [8:25 PM]:  You are welcome...glad to be of service.
BillVicars [8:25 PM]:  What state are you in?
AshleyReed2005 [8:25 PM]:  pennsylvania
BillVicars [8:26 PM]:  I drove through there once on my way to Gallaudet.  Well, I wish you the best in your ASL endeavors.
BillVicars [8:26 PM]:  Have a nice night.  :)
AshleyReed2005 [8:26 PM]:  thank you, you too! :)
BillVicars [8:26 PM]:  bye
AshleyReed2005 [8:26 PM]:  good night.

[Editor's note: Heck, I'd experience dementia too if somebody took away my wallet. (There's never much in it, but I keep it with me always.)  Have the nurse give the old guy a wallet and put twenty bucks in it and let him pay you.  Any self-respecting man wants to pay his own way and not be an object of charity.  After he pays you you can pass it off to the nurse and let her put it back in his wallet for the next time you interpret.]


***Two handed "fine" is "very well"

In a message dated 7/13/2004 10:52:49 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

My parents and I recently met a deaf couple with whom my parents used to go
to church with, and I was interpreting for them since my parents cannot
sign. At one point, they were talking about an interpreters son, who had had
a heart attack, and the wife signed "fine", as he's fine now, with two hands
instead of one, which I am accustomed to seeing. Is this an older sign?

Using two hands to sign "fine" is simply a way to emphasize how well the person is doing.  It means "exceptionally well."  You could interpret this instance of that two-handed sign for "FINE" as "doing very well," "doing great,"  "as good as new," or "excellent!"

*** How to get into the school of your choice

In a message dated 7/23/2004 4:22:33 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars:

I just wanted to say that I've started studying lesson 1 and am absolutely blown away by how much you've put into this endeavor.  Standing ovation.

I'm a student...err...was a student.  I've been an ESL teacher in South Korea for the past 5 years but hope to return to Canada to resume my studies.  I am hoping to go to the University of Western Ontario to obtain a Master of Clinical Science degree in Audiology.  I have long been interested in communication disorders and second language acquisition.  One strike against me is that I don't have a relevant undergraduate degree.  I have a BA in history, another in outdoor leadership, a diploma in TESOL, and an MA in English literature.  Can you recommend ways in which I can make myself look like a better candidate than I currently am?  I hope to attend school in Fall 2005.

Thank you for opening the door to ASL.
Craig Robertson.


Hello Craig,
Thanks for the kind words.

Here are a few suggestions for you.


1.  Seek out and attend any workshops or conferences sponsored by provincial and national associations, ASHA, or allied health and education organizations that cover topics relevant to your proposed degree plan. You can mention attendance at such a workshop in your application letter.  If the program you attend provides a certificate of completion you can list it on your application.


2.   Become a member of several organizations relevant to your future career.
Where appropriate, list your membership on your application. 

For example:

The National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) is a pre-professional membership association for students interested in the study of communication sciences and disorders.


Also:  American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA),

10801 Rockwille Pike,

Rockville, MD.,

20852, 1-800-638-6868


3.  You have an impressive list of academic credentials, but at this point it is bordering on looking like you are an "eternal student."  Mention the diploma in TESOL, the bachelors in History, and the MA in English literature.  But if I were you, I wouldn't mention the Bachelors in Outdoor Leadership unless you have to, and even then I would be extremely subtle.


4.  Check to see if there are any "open enrollment" opportunities in the program.  For example, sometimes you can take a lower division course without having been accepted into the program.  Take such a course and go all out, put in a 100 percent effort.  Get to know the teacher and let him or her see the caliber of student you are.  Then mention that you would very much like to be accepted into their program and ask if he or she has any suggestions. 


5.  Even if it isn't feasible or possible to attend a course, you should still endeavor to get to know the people who run the program. 

One approach you might take is to appear to be shopping around.  (Which you should be doing by the way.)  Send them an email like you sent me.  Introduce yourself and indicate that you are planning to return to Canada in the near future and are seeking a Clinical Audiology program.  Indicate that you wish to find a program where your particular academic background will be viewed as a plus and inquire as to whether this person thinks their program might be a good fit. 

You want to create a scarcity effect if possible.  You need the committee to think, "We want him.  We don't want him to go to one of the other universities.  How can we encourage him to apply here?" The trick is to make it seem like you are a great candidate who is humble but looking at more than just one college.

Best wishes in your endeavors.
Dr. Bill Vicars
p.s. If you've enjoyed this response, you might also enjoy my book, "Sign Me Up!"

***You are a pig

In a message dated 7/29/2004 1:52:26 PM Pacific Daylight Time, BillVicars writes:

In a message dated 7/29/2004 10:55:18 AM Pacific Daylight Time, williamluvssos@____ writes:

hello my name is William too, I just need some help on sign language, I wanted to know what "bringing your arm under your chin and slapping your chin with the back of you hand, twice" means.

I would be very much grateful if you would tell me, thank you very much
please respond asap if it would be possible

Dear William,
Depending on the circumstance, that sign could be interpreted as "BED."  This would be especially true if the person were cocking their head while doing the sign.  The sign is generally done a little higher up the side of the head, but in casual signing it could easily slip down to the cheek and/or side of the chin.
Now it is quite possible that it means something totally different.  Much of the meaning in ASL is "context based."  Without seeing the rest of the sentence I can't make more than an educated guess.
- Dr. Vicars 
In a message dated 7/29/2004 5:04:54 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

thanks for your opinion

the full sentence is:
they pointed at me, made the letter "R", and "letting their arm come across under their chin and letting the back of their hand slap under their chin", doing this twice

what i can figure out is that:       "I Am "Something." "

please get back to me asap

Dear William,
Ah...slapping UNDER the chin. 
You are a pig.
Heh,, sorry.
Or maybe they were asking if you were "full."  If it was an "R" slapped the underside of the chin then perhaps they were giving you a name sign if the first letter of your last name starts with an "R."
Dr. Vicars

*** finding local events--ask a local deaf person or ASL teacher

In a message dated 7/29/2004 1:30:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:


I am studying ASL at the American School for the Deaf in W. Hartford, CT.  I must say it is an interesting language and culture.  I am fortunate to be bilingual (English/Spanish) and now ASL will be my 3rd language.  I am aware that ASL is not spoken in all countries but I am glad that ASL is used in Puerto Rico.  So when I do go to PR and I see a deaf person I can communicate with them in Spanish. 

My goal is to become an interpreter for deaf community in Spanish and English.  I know that I have a long way to go but it's something I see myself doing.  My teacher gave my your website and I must say it's very interesting.  One thing I do need help on is, where can I associate with deaf people?  I am aware of schools around my area but how can I find a place were they gather once or twice a week? 

Hopefully you can answer some of my questions.  I appreciate your work and your website.

Take care,


Hi Mert,
Your best bet is to ask your teacher where to meet deaf in your area.  If he (or she) is a member of the Deaf Community he should be able to tell you where they meet.
Now, aside from that bit of advice, I'd also suggest you contact the Connecticut Association of the Deaf (CAD) president, Mary Beers, ( and ask her what events are going on in the Connecticut area.  Also ask her how to join the CAD and how to get whatever newsletter is put out by their Association.
Good luck,
Dr. Vicars

*** A bearded Jew?

In a message dated 7/28/2004 6:16:05 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dr. Vicars,
One of my friends was telling me about a sign she had seen done. She
couldn't figure out what it was. She thinks it is a bad sign and that is
why no one will tell her what it is. I thought maybe if I tried
describing it to you would know what it was. Ok, you take your right
thumb and put it on the right side of your cheek. You put the rest of
your fingers on the other cheek. Then you pull them together at the
chin. Do you know what that means? Thanks so much for your on-line
classes. I love them!

Brittany Graham

That is the sign for beard.
If you use a smaller, double movement on the chin rather than the cheek it can mean "Jew."
Dr. Vicars

*** A Deaf Comedienne

In a message dated 7/31/2004 2:08:44 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

je m'appelle sonia lanoir et je suis sourde, j'habite en  france je vous
remercier pour le message sur ASL université de sourdes puis je suis un peu anglais et american sign langage. Mais je ne venir pas loin americain et aussi mon CV. Pour je suis comedienne.Voilà donc je suis realité l'envie que je deviendrais l'actrice. parcontre j'avais tout sur les geste (ASL,LSF,AS), c'est tout. bon je vous remercier.

Bonjour Sonia,
Bonne chance avec vos études gestural. Je vous souhaite le succès comme comedienne sourd. I'm heureux vous appréciez l'université d'ASL. Maintenez le bon travail.
Dr. Bill Vicars

[For those of you who were wondering, Sonia is a Deaf Comedienne (funny person - joke teller) living in France.]


In a message dated 8/3/2004 12:37:28 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dear Dr. Vicars:

I am a vegetarian and I would like to know how to express "I am a
vegetarian" with sign language. Can you give me a hand and kindly tell me
how to express it? I found no illustration through your web-site.
Thank you!!


To sign "vegetarian" use the sign "vegetable" and then add the "agent" sign. 
There are three popular ways to sign vegetable.  Two of them involve touching the cheek with a "v" hand.  The first variation is to touch the tip of the index of a "V" handshape to your cheek and twist your hand twice.  The "V" pivots on the tip of the index finger.  The middle finger doesn't touch the face in this version.
To do the second variation of "vegetable" first touch your index finger to your cheek, and then twist your hand and arm (pivoting at the elbow) so that the middle finger is touching the cheek instead of your index finger. (If you know the sign "misunderstand" it is sort of like doing the sign misunderstand on your cheek).
The third variation of vegetable is an abbreviated spelling of the word vegetable.  Just spell the letters V-E-G.
Now, to express the concept of vegetarian, you could simply add the "agent" sign to any of those variations.
 The "agent" sign is sometimes called "the person sign."  This sign is done by bending your arms at your elbows, with your hands in "flat handshapes" with the fingers pointing forward and the palms pointing toward eachother.  You then move both hands straight down about six inches.  Think of sliding your hands down the sides of the torso of a person standing in front of you.
So you end up with "VEGETABLE-AGENT" which means vegetarian.
Remember also that ASL is very situational.  If you are at a restaurant and your Deaf friend removes the meat from her hamburger and you sign to her "DO-DO?" (What are you doing?) and she responds "ME V-E-G" It would obviously mean that she is a vegetarian.  She wouldn't need to add the "AGENT" sign.  The fact that she indexed herself prior to signing "V-E-G" established that she was talking about herself as a person.
In a message dated 8/3/2004 6:27:17 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Dear Dr. Vicars:
Thank you so so much for your clear and kindly explaination.  Now, I got it.
I am promoting the vegetarianism with my friends now and we have set up a Chinese website,
I am wondering if I can use the illustration you taugh and other illustrations to explain how to sign "I am a vegetarian" to all the friends?
I would credit it so that people know where I learn.  Will this is ok? 
By the way, how about the sign of "I am a vegan", do I have to use the fingerspell to sign "vegan"?
Thank you again and looking forward to hearing from you again.
Feel free to use the illustrations.
Something like:  "© 2004, Used by permission."  -- should do the trick as far as "credit" goes.
Yeah...vegan is just spelled out.  Most of us don't know the differences between "vegan" vegetarian, and the various other related terms. Next time I run into a deaf vegetarian I'll certainly ask though if he or she knows any other signs related to vegetarianism.
Take care.


*** courtesy titles

In a message dated 7/31/2004 8:48:43 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dr. Vicars,
I have taught ASL for about 6 years at a couple of local colleges and have
had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for the local Center
for the Deaf.  I am hearing, but have always utilized the wisdom and
resources of my Deaf friends and acquaintances to keep my curriculum
relevant and my personal relationships within the community respectful.  In
both cases, my hearing students and my Deaf friends have always referred to
me as just "Dana" and not "Mrs. McCray".  Here's why I share that little bit
of background.  My husband (who's a middle school teacher with just an
elementary knowledge of ASL) asked me something the other day that I'd never
had to address before.  "If I was to introduce myself to a class of Deaf
students using ASL, how would I sign the word "mister" as the title before
my last name?".  I looked at him and shrugged.  What IS the proper way to
utilize titles?  How do name signs figure into this?  I'm very aware of name
signs for FIRST names, but since all my relationships with Deaf individuals
are rather informal I've never seen anyone introduced as Mr. or Mrs, etc.
Your thoughts?

Best regards,
Dana McCray
Portland, OR

Your observations are correct. In the Deaf community we do not use "courtesy titles" (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., and so forth) the same way hearing people do. I have never seen a culturally deaf person introduce another culturally deaf person as "Mr. / Mrs." so and so.  Just as I started replying to your email I received an IM (instant message) from a friend of mine, Sandra Thrapp.  I asked her if she recalled ever having seen "courtesy titles" used at the Deaf School she attended.  She emphatically replied "Nope!"
She also pointed out that when she introduces me to people she does not include the "Dr." but simply spells "Bill Vicars" and shows my namesign, (the index finger side of a "V" handshape tapping the side of my head twice).
While I have on occasion witnessed hosts at conventions introduce their guest speakers as "Dr." so and so -- use of the title is not expected and not the norm.  
If a person does have an academic title, we put the "title" on the program or flyer and that is about it.  In person we simply spell the first and last name and then show the namesign.

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