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CHINA: The ASL sign for "China"
CHINA: Point at your upper left chest area (if you are right handed) then draw a large (backward) 7. (Note: your finger doesn't actually have to touch your body on this sign.) Memory hint: Think of the buttons on certain styles of Chinese clothing.
Note: This sign is a "loan sign." It is a newer, politically correct version of the sign for China that replaced the older sign for China which consisted of twisting the tip of a "1-hand" near the corner of the eye. This newer version was borrowed (adopted) from Chinese Sign Language. Many ASL signers feel it is more respectful to Chinese people to use their sign when referring to China. This sign is becoming increasingly popular in America.
See animation of China
There is an older variation of the sign for CHINA (Chinese) that many people still use. You point to the side of the eye and twist your hand twice. Quite a few people consider this sign to be "rude." (On the other hand though, quite a few people think of it as THE sign for China and if you do the other "newer" version those people will wonder what the heck you are signing.) Hmmm, what to do? When in Rome (or China) do as the Romans (or Chinese) do. If you local Deaf friend or Teacher uses/prefers one version or the other then stick with that version until you find a compelling reason to sign otherwise.
CHINESE / CHINA (legacy version)
Animation: Traditional version of CHINA:
OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL READING: Information below is not needed for a typical ASL class.
The version below is not recommended for communication in ASL and is presented here in response to a question from an ASL teacher in Hawaii.
CHINA: Emerging Variation in the Hawaii area?In a message dated 2/1/2010 2:48:52 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, an ASL instructor from Hawaii (makbeth19) writes:Aloha Dr. V.For my class tomorrow, can you tell me whether the sign for "China" has been changed again on the Mainland? Here in the islands we no longer use the clothing sign for China/Chinese, although it was common here for several years ... now we use a representation of the kanji for China ... non-dominant hand makes "G", and the dominant hand taps that with a "1." I've attached a jpeg of the kanji as well as me signing it to try and give you an idea of what the sign is going for. Hope it helps. This is the common sign for "China" here. Have you ever seen it used on the Mainland?Mahalo no kokua,
Just last week [Edit: This was back in 2010] I was giving a presentation (regarding "online ASL classes) and one of the participants (a Deaf, highly experienced ASL instructor) brought up the CHINA sign. This person was adamant about not accepting the "borrowed" version of the CHINA sign based on the "buttons/clothing" of the military uniform. This person exclusively uses the old "index finger twist at the side of the eye" version of the sign for CHINA.
Thus I can tell you that as of early 2010 you will see both the "clothing based" sign and the "eye based" both still being used in mainland America. Your mentioning the Kanji sign is the first I've heard of it here. So I'm going to make a note of it at Lifeprint under the "China" page mention the Kanji version as a variation seen in Hawaii.
- Dr. Bill
[Update: I purchased a Chinese Dictionary of Chinese Sign Language while I was in Taipei attending the Deaflympics. Later, as I was reviewing the book, I came across the sign mentioned by Beth (above). The Chinese dictionary listed this sign as referring to "Taichung" which is actually a very large city in Taiwan. Thus I do not think that this sign means "China" in general in Chinese Sign Language. However this particular kanji character in Japanese writing is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "China" so next time I interact with some Deaf Japanese I'll certainly ask them to elaborate.]
In a message dated 1/6/2013 12:29:01 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, ryanerwin writes:Dr Bill,
I'm American, from Seattle, but I've been stationed in China for seven years. I'm fluent in spoken Mandarin and in written Simplified Chinese. My relatives in the US have been talking about Baby Sign Language, so I've been looking into it. Particularly, if Baby Sign Language would work in China, it's very rare here in China.
I'm writing since I noticed that on your LifePrint ASL "China" page (http://lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-signs/c/china.htm) you wrote:
<< Update: I purchased a Chinese Dictionary of Chinese Sign Language while I was in Taipei attending the Deaflympics. Later, as I was reviewing the book, I came across the sign mentioned by Beth (above). The Chinese dictionary listed this sign as referring to "Taichung" which is actually a very large city in Taiwan. Thus I do not think that this sign means "China" in general in Chinese Sign Language. However this particular kanji character in Japanese writing is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "China" so next time I interact with some Deaf Japanese I'll certainly ask them to elaborate.>>
Thought I would provide some clarification for you. In Taiwan, there's a city called 台中 (i.e. "middle of Taiwan) that would be transliterated in Taiwan as "Taichung" or transliterated in Mainland China as "Taizhong". It's conceivable that someone in Taiwan may think "中" referred to "Taichung", but it would depend a lot on the context. "中" could mean "on target", "middle", or most commonly "China." When you seen China described in English as the "Middle Kingdom," people are just literally translating China's name: 中国. 中 = middle 国 = country. Like 美国 （USA）, 美 ＝ beautiful, 国 ＝ country.
Also interesting, the limited Baby Sign Language that is used in China seems to be based on ASL rather than on Chinese Sign Language.
- Ryan in Shanghai=
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