To sign "subway," slide the "Y" hand back and forward underneath the "flat" hand as if showing a
subway car moving underground. Note: This version also works well to refer
to "Subway" sandwich shops.
Sample sentence: YOUR CITY HAVE SUBWAY? (Is there a subway in your city?)
Here are my thoughts:
1. The "Y" handshape is associated with things that are long, extended, or
distended: BIG-WORD, HIPPOPOTAMUS-[Y-hand-version], and
OBESE-PERSON-WADDLING. Subways are "long."
2. Garages have ceilings. To sign GARAGE we show a car driving under a
ceiling (with a double movement). That movement is forward, back, forward.
Generally when showing movement we do so either "forward and back" or
"side-to-side." Since the forward and back movement under a ceiling
(surface) movement has already been used for GARAGE, That leaves us with a
side to side movement available to use for SUBWAY.
Subway tracks and train tracks can accommodate movement in either
direction. It would be awkward to use a 3-handshape in a side-to-side
movement to show the orientation of the train. The "vehicle" classifier
indicates a front of the vehicle and back of the vehicle. The Y-handshape
classifier does not. We cannot say that the thumb is the front and the
pinkie is the back. Thus the Y-hand is free to move side to side while at
the same time representing the concept of forward and backward movement of a
Regarding the sign for "train." While the basic TRAIN sign uses "H"
hands -- if you decide to show how that train is positioned or moving you
can indeed use a "classifier 3" handshape for the locomotive (engine) car of
the train. Non-engine cars are typically shown via a classifier-C or a
- Dr. Bill
A Youtube commenter, Esther Burridge, commented: "Subway was taught to me
differently here, Montréal, a city with one. It’s a flat b (straight closed
flat hand) going under the left hand, perpendicular." (1/18/2019)