back.gif (1674 bytes)


In a message dated 8/1/2007 10:27:19 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, kathygab@ writes:
Hi, Doc.
...My husband and I asked several deaf people for the sign for "ferret." We have three ferrets and fingerspelling it all the time is tedious. So, my husband suggested three bounces of a pointing finger. I kind of liked it and asked a deaf friend at work. She shook her head while thinking, then suggested an "F" shape bouncing. We liked it, and so did others we've shown it to. Ferrets do bounce all over the place. So that's our home sign for ferret, and I'm hoping it'll catch on with other signers. Do you like it?
Wanna see pictures of our ferrets? No. Aw, darn.
- Kathy

I suppose the "F" hand bouncing sign could work.  Depends on how you are bouncing it. If you are bouncing it across your signing space that is different from bouncing it up and down in the same place.  If you bounce it up and down in the same place it would conflict somewhat with the sign for the "Fremont" School for the Deaf (CSD).
Actuallly, I sort of like your husband's version better.  Can't please everyone though eh?
p.s. Sure, I'd be happy to take a look at your ferret pics. As long as the pics are not of "feeding time."

A ferret owner named "Kate" over at Youtube writes,
"Hey so I have a pet ferret so I obviously want to know how to sign that. When I've looked it up a lot of places just say to spell it, but there were a few that said that it's an 'F' bouncing forward. Is this true?"
- Kate

Dear Kate,
If you survey dozens of native Deaf adults you would be lucky to find one person that uses or even knows of a sign for "ferret." As far as I can tell, back in 2007 a ferret owner decided one day to come up with a sign for "ferret."  He came up with the idea of using an "index finger" bouncing forward - based on the characteristics of a ferret.  His wife showed it to a Deaf coworker who then added an "F" handshape to that movement and presto -- the sign for ferret.
So it "okay" to use a bouncing "F" as the sign for ferret? There are ASL instructors and Deaf people who tend to oppose nearly all "initialization" of signs (using the initial of the English or spoken language word as the handshape for the sign).  Thus you are in a "can't please everyone" situation.
The argument can be made that it is as okay to use an "F" for ferret as it is to use a "G" in the sign for giraffe or an "F" as the handshape for the fox sign (both of which are common signs).
Personally I'd be interested to see if there are any (non-initialized) signs for "ferret" used in other countries and then "borrow" the sign from another country rather than borrow the English letter "F."
- Dr. Bill


American Sign Language University ASL resources by Dr. William Vicars
back.gif (1674 bytes)