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American Sign Language: "panda"

Here is a version of the sign for "panda bear" that I learned on my travels. I can't recall if it was Taipei or Singapore that I picked this up but it was one of the two. I like this version for several reasons:

1. Apparently it is used by (at least some) people who live on a continent that actually has indigenous pandas.
2. It is iconic (it depicts a characteristic of pandas)
3. It doesn't conflict with the sign for goggles
4. It doesn't require the use of an English initial.
5. It doesn't require a compound such as "GOGGLES-BEAR" but rather it can be done with one sign and is thus fairly efficient.



In the U.S. there is no single dominant sign for "panda" as in a "panda bear." Of the various signs in use the most popular variations tend to involve depicting the eye circles of panda bears.

If telling a story, you could spell the word "panda" and, if necessary, describe it using signs like: CHINA, BEAR, BLACK, WHITE.  Then as you tell the story you would simply use the sign BEAR to mean "panda bear" because you have already identified the bear as a "panda bear" at the beginning of the story.

You can use a phrase such as, "You know, there in China, they have a bear that is black and white.

"you know" = know

CHINA (new version)




Make a clawing movement at your chest.  Repeat.
Note: Do not practice this sign on other people.

Note: Some people might try to tell you that in ASL you should sign "BEAR" first and BLACK / WHITE second.  While that grammar structure is one of the correct ways to sign this concept, it is also correct to sign "black" and "white" just before signing "bear."  The ASL Linguistics book by Vali and Lucas is quite clear on the concept that certain adjectives can precede nouns in ASL.  (For example, "YELLOW HOUSE.")

Note: There are a couple of initialized versions of the sign for "panda" that are becoming less common due to the diminishing use of initials in the American Deaf Community. Since these are (now) considered Signed English I would not recommend them for "ASL" classes:

1. Signing BEAR using "P" handshapes.
2. Circling the eyes with "P" handshapes.


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