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CALL: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "call"


The right sign for "call" depends on your meaning.


The general sign for "make a phone call" uses a "Y" handshape that starts near the side of the head and moves outward a few inches.
This sign tends to refer to making a voice phone call.
Some ASL teachers or information sources may be inflexible on the usage of this sign but it is not uncommon to see Deaf people use this sign even though the actual call itself might involve typing or signing.  However there are more specific signs for specific types of phone calls. 

CALL-(general sign for phone call)

Also see: PHONE


In the old days, we Deaf people used to call our friends using a "teletypewriter" (TTY) or later via a  "Telecommunication Device for the Deaf" (TDD) (Which most of us still refer to as a TTY.)  Not many people use TTYs any more since text messaging and videophones (VP) are prevalent now but you might still see this classic sign for "CALL" that specifically refers to how Deaf people make phone "calls."

CALL-(using a TTY, IP-text-relay, or other non-voice-initiated calls)


If you mean "call" as in "give a name to" then you should use the verb form of the sign for "NAME." This is the equivalent of name as in, "You should name your dog 'Spot.'"  Or "He christened his boat 'Sally' in memory of his mother."  To do this variation of "call" you use a single movement version of the sign "NAME."

NAME-(verb form)
[Use a single, large movement]



"CALL" as in "summon" or a church calling:



CALL as in "Call or yell to someone)



It is likely that the X-hand / Index finger version of "call"  is more common in some areas than others. And more common in multi-generational Deaf households or houses with older Deaf (who did a lot of calling in the 60's through 90's. I still remember the sign fondly from the days when we had a TTY (TDD) in the house. It is becoming less common as the years go by.

Plus the old Y at the cheek sign has become rather arbitrary (in the sense of being detached from the original shape / configuration and is now simply symbolic) and not as iconic / depictive as it used to be. In other words some Deaf use the Y at the cheek version to mean "call" (even though we don't hold a phone to the ear to make a call. It might have to do with the fact that even if / when we use the relay the person on the other end (if they are Hearing) generally "is" holding a phone to their ear.

Language evolves.

We are seeing people sign "CAN WE-2 ZOOM?"


Also we are seeing a lot more of this sign:

Also see: ANNOUNCE





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