ASL University ►

American Sign Language:  "sister"

The sign for sister is basically a combination of the signs "GIRL" and "RIGHT." 
The dominant hand of "SISTER" starts with somewhat of an "L" handshape. 
The handshape is a cross between a "G" and an "L.")  The right hand changes to a normal "G" handshape as it moves downward and makes contact with the non-dominant hand which is already in an "index finger / G handshape."  The dominant hand is the one that moves. The non-dominant hand is stationary during this sign.



There is another version of the sign for "sister" that I don't recommend because it is considered to be "Signed English" by  many people. I don't think it is Signed English.  I just think it is the "older" version of the current sign for "sister." This version of "sister" uses a combination of the signs "GIRL" and a version of the sign for "SAME-(also, too).  I believe that over time the second part of the sign mutated from "SAME/also, too) into the sign "RIGHT" because it is slightly easier and faster to use
Even though I wouldn't recommend it for an ASL class, I believe it is worth knowing (especially for interpreters) because you might see it used in the Deaf community.

SISTER: (variation) (not recommended) = GIRL-SAME:

Tip: When trying to remember the sign for brother or sister, remember that the boy and/or girl come from the same family.

There is an interesting sign for "step-sister" that is a combination of the sign for "his-TURN" (or "SECOND-HAND") and "SISTER."   Some people use this sign others don't.  I like the sign and I feel it is as good as any other signs for the concept. The sign "SECOND-HAND" can be used to indicate "next one" as it is here.

STEP-SISTER (version)


Other methods of indicating "step" (as in "step-sister) include fingerspelling S-T-E-P, or signing "false."  But I prefer to use the sign "false-sister" to mean "foster sister."



ADDITIONAL reading (not required)


In a message dated 1/18/2004 3:54:39 PM Pacific Standard Time, a student writes:
I am an Interpreting student at Columbus State Community College in Ohio. I am also the mother of a 25 year old Deaf son. I first learned Signed English, which is what I raised and taught my son to communicate with; he began attending the Ohio School for the Deaf at 13, where he of course became introduced to ASL. He has only recently (at my insistence) began using ASL when talking with me; because for so long I did not know ASL, but I did notice that sometimes when he was signing with friends or other Deaf people, it looked alot different than my signing, and I didn't always follow it! I am finally starting to think "visual" instead of word for word English signing, but I still find myself slipping into English in long conversations, but I'm working on that, and I now that I understand ASL better, I really think its a beautiful and intense (for lack of a better term) language.
I was just browsing Lesson 2, I came across your sign for "Step Sister"; I have never seen this before, and I'm not quite sure about what your hands are doing in the first step where you said it represents "his turn". Could you possibly elaborate on the handshape and movement of this part, I get the ending "sister" shape/movement. I know the sign I use for "turn" is like a palm-down 'G' shape that twists clockwise into the basic 'G' shape; is this what you mean? As I said, I have never seen this nor any other version of a "step" sign added to a family category, other than "half", "not real" or fingerspelled S-T-E-P. So I'm quite curious, and excited to learn a new sign for this concept!
Get back to me when you have time, I know you must be busy! Thank you for sharing your wealth of information with me and everyone else! God Bless you!
- Lynn Platt

Hi Lynn,
The movement in the "secondhand" or "turn" version of "step" in step sister is a cross between turning a screwdriver and casting a fishing line. The whole movement is fairly quick. The handshape is a relaxed "L" and/or "G."
- Dr. Bill

Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy DONATE (Thanks!)
(You don't need a PayPal account. Just look for the credit card logos and click continue.)

Another way to help is to buy something from the ASLU "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)   CHECK IT OUT >

Bandwidth slow?  Check out "" (a free mirror of less traffic, fast access)   VISIT >


You can learn sign language online at American Sign Language (ASL) University  
Sign language lessons and resources.  Dr. William Vicars


back.gif (1674 bytes)