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CHICKEN: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "chicken"

In context, the sign for "chicken" uses the same sign as "BIRD."




Sample sentence: ROAD BIRD, depiction "bird cross the road" WHY? (Why did the chicken cross the road?)





Even though CHICKEN tends to use the same sign as "BIRD" -- the difference in meaning is usually quite obvious from the context.  If someone asks you your favorite food and you respond by signing "BIRD" -- your conversation partner will assume you mean "chicken."

If you have to show a difference between "chicken" and "bird," (for example, if you are interpreting a lecture regarding different types of birds -- one of which is a chicken) you can do the "beak" sign with your right hand and hold your left flat hand palm up in front of you.  Then bring the "beak" down to the left hand to represent a chicken pecking for seeds on the ground.
- Dr. Bill

Version of Chicken:

Note: The above version can be thought of as representing the beak of the chicken followed by the chicken pecking at food on the ground with its beak.



Lyn W. writes:
"For years I have used three different signs to convey the concept of 'chicken.' 
I use one of two signs to mean 'a chicken' (the bird). 
I sign: bird.  Or, I sign:  "bird" and then my left flat palm faces up and is held stationary. Then, the fingertips of my right Flat V hand shape touch the left palm - and then immediately and quickly are crooked, two, time (to represent a chicken scratching in the dirt, I suppose).
I use a very different sign to mean 'chicken that we eat.'
To mean 'chicken that we eat' I hold my right G hand shape (I am right handed) at my right cheek, fingers point to the left; using two quick wrist actions I 'swing' the hand forward, two times, so my thumb and index finger point at slight outward-angle to the left.
... Do you, personally, use the sign I described above for 'chicken that we eat?'  Or not?  If not, do you use some other sign to convey that concept?  I have a feeling my sign is mid-west-regional (but I'm not sure about that)...
Thanks for your input and time!  
- Lyn

I think your sign for "chicken that we eat" is somewhat similar to the sign I typically use for "turkey"-(that we eat). It is done by holding a "Q" under, on, or near your chin. Wiggle it a couple times as if it were a "wattle."
Your other sign for "chicken" (the one that scratches on the ground) is legit but not used by many.
Just last week I was doing some video work an my model did the "BIRD-peck-on-the-ground" version of "chicken." (The one that signs "BIRD" then touches the beak to the flat upturned palm once or twice).
- Bill





Version of Chicken:

Note: The above version can be thought of as representing the beak of the chicken followed by the chicken scratching at the ground with its foot.
This version isn't used very widely but I could see it perhaps being used as part of a children's story.



In a message dated 9/3/2009 1:54:02 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Rmellis5 writes:
Dr. Vicars,
I am confused about the chicken sign. In SC I have seen a different sign used. Can you tell me if you have seen it and if it is correct? The thumb of the right hand touches the chin and the first two fingers are sticking up but slightly crooked and the last two fingers stay bent into the palm. There is also a tapping of this sign on the chin. Please help.
Thanks, Melanie Ellis

Yes, I've seen that version.
I generally use that to mean "hen." I do my version of hen using a "three" handshape (the index and middle are not bent) and tap it on the chin twice.
To do rooster, I do that sign on the head.
So, I can certainly see how in your region that the "hen" sign would come to be used to mean "chicken."
-- Bill





HEN  (or in some regions "chicken")




In a message dated 8/30/2014 3:12:35 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Lyn W. writes:
Now I just had a thought about 'chickens' and various signs related to the concept of a 'chicken.' You might add to your chicken-page, the fact that the sign for 'chicken' can also mean 'cowardly, or "You chicken!' Or perhaps that is regional and not widely used? And how would you sign 'chicken-coop? Chicken, house? I have friends who raise chickens, thus all the questions.
-  Lyn

Dear Lyn,
Hello :)
Heh, if I'm going to sign that someone is "chicken" (as in afraid) I stick my thumbs in my armpits and flap my elbows and really make a spectacle of it.  If you are going to borrow from English you might as well have fun doing it.
Thus I wouldn't sign "bird" to mean that someone is "chicken" as in "afraid."
For "chicken coop" I'd sign BIRD (while mouthing the first syllable of chicken) and then I'd fingerspell C-O-O-P.  If needed I could sign FENCE-four-sides or I could do the sign for HOUSE (I'd do it rather small).
- Dr. Bill



For the concept of CHICKEN POX, you could sign CHICKEN and fingerspell P-O-X:




If you want to learn more animal signs, check out:




Also see: TURKEY


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