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American Sign Language: "sweet"

The sign "SWEET" is also used to mean "diabetes." The handshape, location, and movement are all done the same. The difference is in the context and the rest of the sentence in which you use the sign.



Compare with: SUGAR


In a message dated 8/2/2007 6:47:12 AM Pacific Daylight Time, dumbledorenj04@ writes:

Dr. Bill,

Gary here.  I attend an informal class in a friends home and we are confused.  Diabetes, sugar, cute, sweet.  The differences?

Thank you!

- GJ


Some signs are more encompassing than other signs.  Which is to say, certain signs are more general, they have more interpretations, and depend more on context (the signs or sentences preceding or following the sign), syntax (the word order of the sentence), or pragmatics (the environment or  situation in which the communication takes place) to determine their meaning.  "SWEET" is a very general sign.
The "flat hand" that rubs/bends twice downward on the chin is can be interpreted as:

and, when combined with the sign "SOUP," can be interpreted as "pudding."

It seems to me that "older" people use the SWEET sign to also mean "sugar."  Coffee drinkers often use the SWEET sign to mean "sugar" too.  (Just like they use the sign "MILK" to mean "cream.")


The modified "U/H" handshape (thumb alongside) that rubs/bends twice downward on the chin can be interpreted as:

CANDY-(rare_version: off the chin or cheek using a "U-handshape)

Note:  If a guy or girl is "hot" as in "very good looking" the above sign can be modified to use a single downward movement that is much more exaggerated and held longer at the end of the sign than the standard sign for CUTE.  If used, the facial expression tends to look as if you were doing a "whistle."  I'm sure that expression is simply how your lips look when you pronounce the letter "U." 

Much of the time however, CUTE is done with a double movement. Sometimes the only difference between "cute" and "sugar" is your facial expression.  "Sugar" is neutral.  "Cute" tends to use an much more facial expression (imagine how you look when looking at a baby in a stroller).

"Diabetes" has a second and third variation is also often done with a "D" twisting on the neck, or a "D" rubbing downward twice on the upper right chest area (if you are right handed).  The movement.

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