On the Road Again
Have you ever wanted to be a world traveler? Now you can! Well, at least you can make a mental journey during this sign language lesson. You'll begin here in America and then travel to foreign countries.
AMERICA: Interlock both “open five” hands and hold them in a nearly vertical position. Rotate hands counterclockwise. Memory aid: The fingers represent people joining and working in unison.
Canada is an easy sign to imitate. It represents shaking the snow off a coat. To sign “Canada,” lightly tap the “A” hand on the upper part of your chest.
WORLD: Rotate, the “W” hands away from you, around each other once. Memory aid: Demonstrates the revolving world.
COUNTRY: Using the right “Y” hand, make a counterclockwise circle in front of your left arm close to your elbow. Variation: A “flat” hand can be used instead of a “Y” hand.
To sign “foreign” use the “F” hand. To sign “Europe,” circle the “E” hand near the right side of your forehead.
SPAIN: Draw the “X” fingers from the shoulders and hook them together, in front of your chest. Memory aid: Imitates tying a matador's cape.
Often just a simple letter from the manual alphabet is used with a movement to sign a country. For example, to sign “France,” hold the “F” hand palm in, then quickly turn your hand to palm-out position.
ITALY: Use the “I” hand to draw a cross in the middle of the forehead.
GREECE: Draw the “G” hand down your forehead and nose in a double movement. Memory aid: Imitates the profile of Grecian statues.
You have traveled over a small portion of Europe and must include England. Believe it or not, you already know how to sign this country. In Chapter 15, under “School Subjects,” you learned how to sign “English.” To form the sign for “England” and “Britain” you simply sign “English.” Now let's take this sign a bit further, back to the United States, and learn how to form the sign for “New England.”
New England is in the northeastern corner of the United States. To sign “New England” simply sign “new” and “England.”
NEW: Move the right “curved” hand, palm up, across the palm of your left hand from fingertips to heel, and off the hand in an upward arc.
Here are two interesting signs: the first imitates the shape of the country, and the second imitates the style of the country's traditional clothing.
JAPAN: Touch the fingertips of both “G” hands together, then pull them apart to the side of your body, pressing your thumb tips and index tips together. Memory aid: Imitates the shape of the Japanese islands.
Abroad, one might see this sign being formed by imitating the sheath covering on a Samurai sword being pulled downward.
CHINA: Point with your index finger to your left shoulder, cross to your right shoulder, and then draw the index finger straight down. Memory aid: This sign follows the lines of Chinese traditional clothing.
As a novice signer, be mindful when browsing ASL dictionaries — older signs can be disparaging. Cultural awareness and sensitivity is found in the newer versions of how signs are formed. Sign language has the capacity to communicate nonverbal respect and positive regard when describing other cultures.
A two-handed “manual alphabet” is used in Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN), British Sign Language (BSL) and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). In all three of these sign languages, only the letter “C” is formed with one hand.
Good examples are the signs previously shown for “America,” which describes the melting pot of people coming together, “Spain,” demonstrating the matador's cape, and “Greece” referring to its historical statues. These types of signs continue to demonstrate the beauty of sign language.