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American Sign Language: "light"
The concept of "light" has many meanings. There are many ways to sign "light."
"LIGHTS" or "LIGHTS-ON"
This version of light is used to refer to "overhead lighting."
Question: "Why do Deaf tend to hang out in the kitchen?"
Answer: "Good lighting."
If you use a "double motion" with this sign it means "FLASH the LIGHTS."
Flashing the lights is a method of quickly getting the attention of a whole group of people.
Sample sentence: Why does the teacher flash the lights off and on?
= TEACHER FLASH-LIGHTS, WHY?
The answer to this question is "So that the students will look up and pay attention."
Getting attention this way should only be done by people familiar with Deaf Culture. Newbies tend to overdo it and flash too quickly, too many times.
To sign "flash the lights" open the hands, close the hands, and open them again. This is a way to tell someone to flash the overhead lighting off and on a couple times.
If you are referring to "light" as in a "light device," "the light," "a light bulb," etc. you can use the general sign for light that uses the dominant hand in an "8" handshape under the chin.
With the middle finger cocked on the thumb. You flick the middle finger of your dominant hand upward twice so that it "thumps" (lightly) each time on the underside of your chin. This sign can be used in sentences like, "LIGHT BROKE" to mean, "The light bulb is out" if you were talking about an LCD projector or a flashlight.
Remember, thump the underside of your chin the movement is similar to thumping a melon. The middle finger and thumb come apart. Note: the thump is very gentle...you hardly feel it on your chin. You don't even have to make contact and it still means the same thing.
Note: at the beginning of the sign the pad of my thumb is on the fingernail of the middle finger.
BRIGHT (illuminated, clear, obvious)
This next version of "light" means "bright (as in well illuminated), obvious, and/or clear (as in both easy to understand and transparent)."
A ray of light / a spotlight / sunlight.
Move the hand downward a bit as it opens up. (As if representing the direction and travel of the light.)
You could use this next version for such things as a table lamp, or perhaps even an "ELMO." (An ELMO is a brand of video projector commonly used in distance education classrooms.)
You can change the location and direction of the light to indicate such things as "headlights."
To sign "light a match" mime the action of striking a match against a surface.
LIGHT-MATCH: "light a match."
There is a "rotating flashing lights" sign that has a default meaning of "ambulance." If you do this sign out of context it means "ambulance." If used in reference to other vehicles it specifically refers to flashing lights ("cherries") and you'll see it in stories told by Deaf people who got "pulled over" by the police.
This sign means "light" as in "doesn't weigh very much.
I also use it to mean "light" as in "light blue" or "light yellow" (etc.).
Also see: LIGHT-WEIGHT
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