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American Sign Language:  "gentle"


The sign for "gentle" is also the same as the sign for soft.  It can even mean "tender."

GENTLE:


 

Notes:  You can use context and facial expression to modify the meaning of this sign (gentle/soft) to instead mean "wet" or "humid."  Just match your facial expression to the meaning you are striving to convey.  If you intend a negative connotation you should use a negative facial expression and a larger, harsher, movement.
 

 


Discussion


Hi Dr. Vicars,
Fabulous site! Thanks so much for maintaining it, and for going into the level of detail you do.

I've taken the opportunity of having a new (hearing) baby to indulge my lifelong interest in ASL, which I've only studied on and off previously. Comparative linguistics and dance are two of my major passions, so I'm loving having a great excuse to devote more time to learning more ASL.

Anyway, a specific question: when you get a chance could you address the various signs for "gentle"? I've seen number of different ones and am wondering which are more broadly accepted or if there are subtle differences in meaning that I am missing. Variants I've seen include: stroking the back of the nd hand with the d hand, rotating two bent B-hands around each other, gently "patting" downward twice in front of you with both hands in relaxed 5, a double downward swipe off the chin with the upgoing fingertips of the d hand, etc. I'd love to hear your take on the differences/usage here.
Thanks again for all you do.
Best,
- Suzie Snyder 


Dear Suzie,
See below for my thoughts on each of those versions.
-- Dr. Bill


Version: Stroking the back of the non-dominant hand with the dominant hand.

Notes: That is the sign "PET." If you do the sign for "PET" in a careful/gentle manner it can be interpreted as "pet the animal gently."


Version: Rotating two bent B-hands around each other.

Notes: That is the sign for "KINDNESS" as in "be kind to other people" or "she is a kind person."


Version: Gently "patting" downward twice in front of you with both hands in relaxed 5

Notes: That is the sign for "calm down" or "Whoa, easy does it." If talking about the ocean it could refer to the waves being gentle. If you pat downward and then move it slightly sideways and pat downward again it becomes the sign for "EASYGOING" or "take it easy." It can also mean that a person is "down to earth."


Version: A double downward swipe off the chin with the upgoing fingertips of the d hand, etc.

Notes: That is the sign for "SWEET" and when applied to a person's personality it can mean that he or she is a "sweet person."



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