Judy Staub, a Teacher of the Deaf at East Lyme High School,
emailed me to ask:
"What’s the sign for ‘cartoon’?”
You could sign "cartoon" in several ways.
An ASL approach would be to spell it on first usage and then sign the word
"FUNNY" - thus establishing the sign "FUNNY" as meaning "cartoon" for the rest
of that conversation.
But what if you want to talk about how funny a cartoon was? Some people
choose to initialize the sign FUNNY with a "C." I wouldn't use that on an ASL
test, but it is out there in the community.
If the "cartoon" is in printed format and it is a single picture, you could sign
"PICTURE" to mean cartoon. Or if it is a cartoon strip, you could use the
sign "rectangle" to refer to the cartoon.
Each of those signs "FUNNY, PICTURE, and RECTANGLE" end up functioning somewhat
like a pronoun. They are "not" the equivalent, to a full-fledged "noun" but they
function as a proxy for a previously identified concept. So, in ASL you
would identify that you are talking about a "cartoon" either by spelling it or
by contextual information and then you would use a "proxy" sign to refer back to
Sometimes the actual word "cartoon" is simply irrelevant. For example, suppose
you started talking to someone about a 90-minue-long cartoon that was being
shown in the theater you might spell the title of the movie with your eyebrows
up (as if asking, "Do you know the one I'm talking about?") and then your
conversation partner might nods that he/she is familiar with the movie to which
you are referring. Since he is familiar with the movie that means he already
knows it is a cartoon. After which you would simply sign "movie" to refer to