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American Sign Language: "dead"

 


DEAD / die:


 




 

Memory aid: Think of "rolling over in your grave."  Or how about, "Fish turn belly up when they die."
 


Notes:
It is very common to see the sign "dead" done with just one hand.

Also see: DEATH

 

Notes:
There are those who will tell you that if someone dies you "should" sign "DEAD." That however ignores the fact that many, many Deaf sign things like: "YEAR-past MY MOM GONE" to mean "I lost my mom last year."*

English uses euphemisms.
ASL uses euphemisms.

English speakers generally do not run around telling other English speakers:
"No, you can't say someone passed away. You have to say they died!'"

Equal rights for ASL signers: We have the right to use euphemisms.

The sign GONE can be an "acceptable" euphemism in for DEAD in ASL. To be used to mean "dead" the sign GONE must be done in context. By context I mean the surrounding details or situation. For example, If you are discussing someone who is old or suffering from a deadly illness or disease and you sign, IX-[he/she/they] GONE [+ "sad facial expression"] it would tend to mean that the person has died.  However, if the person is young and in good health and you sign that they are "GONE" (while using a neutral facial expression) it would likely mean that they are no longer in this location.

The sign PASS combined with fs-AWAY (fingerspelling of the word "away") is a somewhat less common Deaf Community euphemism for "died."  Some might call it "Signed English" -- but that doesn't take away from the fact that it shows up as a euphemism in ASL.

However the sign "LOST / LOSE / unknown whereabouts" -- is not an ASL euphemism for DEAD. Do not use the sign "LOST" to mean "dead."  That would seem odd or inappropriate in ASL since the LOST/LOSE sign would indicate that you misplaced or no longer know the location of the person (or animal or plant).
 


Notes:

*See this example of GONE used to mean "pass away" which is used to mean "dead" -- at the 6:41 time code of: https://youtu.be/RygecVXnBB0?t=399
 





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