Hi Dr. Bill,
I saw the post about "yogurt" and wanted to tell you that
tutor agrees that there is no formal sign for yogurt, which is
really unusual, because there's been such a health food
explosion, and yogurt is now as common and popular as bananas
Suzie Fairweather, my family's ASL tutor, says that one of the
preschool teachers at the BC Family Hearing Society has
developed the following sign, which I thought I'd pass on to
Hold the non-dominant hand in a cup shape, as yogurt mostly
comes in little cups, and have the dominant hand in the "Y"
shape. Dip the thumb of the Y into the top of the cup and bring
it to the mouth.
...We discovered that our younger daughter (one year old next
week) is profoundly deaf when she was nine months old. We're
being tested for Waardenburg Syndrome. Tasha is not signing much
yet, but our preschooler, Fiona, signs like a house on fire, and
I'm using sign language in "story-times" here at work. ...
In a message dated 3/16/2017 6:32:10 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, an
ASL instructor writes:
I'm laughing .. . .you said you would 'like to see me teach.' Well .
. .if you did you might see me teach the sign for 'yogurt.' And I
would tell the students, "The sign for yogurt is similar to the sign
for 'soup' however for yogurt we use a Y handshape (instead of the U
handshape instead of the U handshape that we use when we sign
And you would be sitting in your seat and you would shudder and
cringe and inhaled-through-your-teeth and you'd be thinking . .'NO
girl. That's NOT how we sign yogurt. We spell it!"
[name removed to protect
Heh. In the "old days" I used to promote the
signing of YOGURT as sticking a thumb into a C hand and bringing it
to the mouth. Then a fifth generation native Deaf ASL activist (and
friend, heh) told me "no" in no uncertain terms.
That was quite a few years back.
Since I am an ASL instructor by vocation (passion aside -- how I
"feed" my family is/was dependent on getting Hearing people to sign.
Thus my bias toward sign choices leaned toward signs which my
Hearing students were/are capable of producing. Back then I still
hadn't wrapped my mind around the fact that since we Deaf can spell
certain things faster and easier than we can sign them -- the proper
and right expression of those (specific / particular) concepts is
therefore via fingerspelling -- not signing.
Which is to say, as an ASL instructor I had a propensity (a "bias"
actually) toward accepting signed versions of concepts over spelled
versions of concepts since my Hearing students could articulate the
signed versions but struggled with the spelled versions.
Eventually I realized this bias was affecting my teaching an vowed
to "repent" and face the issue head on and be bold about the fact
that fingerspelling is an integral part of ASL and that students
need to either master that skill or go take Spanish instead.
Regardless, times change, language evolves, folks start eating
yogurt, parents want a sign to use with their babies, yadda, yadda,
well-meaning people start inventing signs. Some signs get
criticized, some stick and spread. If enough signers in the
community adopt the new sign that sign and continue using it for
everyday life interactions over an extended period of time -- that
sign is then no longer "wrong" but rather it has become a new
Now I'm going to take a risk here and predict the following version
YOGURT: Hold up a "Y" hand as if to sign YELLOW (palm somewhat
facing back, thumb somewhat pointing up -- both at very relaxed
angles) but do not rotate it. Instead bend the interphalangeal joint
of the thumb twice. [Prediction date: 2017/03/17]
Why do I predict that version will spread?
Simple: It is easier than spelling YOGURT.
Time will tell.
More and more people have adopted the Y-hand eat from C-hand version
of yogurt. It is a fairly common and defensible sign at this
point in time.
Years ago I saw from time to time (but I do not recommend) an initialized version of the sign
done with a
"Y" handshape instead of an "S" handshape.
Most Deaf adult signers consider that to be an example of signed
English. I think it is just an overreaching attempt at
initialization that misses the mark. My
concern with an initialized ("Y") version of ICE-CREAM is that it conflicts with an advanced
variation of "MISTAKE
that means "to make repeated errors." - Bill
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