Category Archives: Learning ASL

The Groundhog Protests!

On Groundhog Day a mayor learns not to let a cranky groundhog get too close. We received a comment from Rusty Crow, a viewer from Wisconsin on this video, he said, "you sign for Wisconsin that you should use fingerspelling WISC. The sign you use was Milwaukee . The people of Wisconsin used to spell WISC. and Milwaukee is use...

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Deaf Returning Citizen Jason on Sign for Quarantine

  • Deaf Returning Citizen Jason on Sign for Quarantine

What sign do you use for “quarantine”? Deaf returning citizen, Jason, discusses why a certain commonly used sign does not accurately describe what “quarantine” means, and how it can be triggering for people who have actually experienced being imprisoned.

During the coronavirus outbreak, I have noticed the semantics of some words and gestures, such as the sign for “quarantine” (shows sign using both hands in the 2-shape, facing the signer, while touching the back of the right 2-hand onto the left 2-hand). This sign means “jail” and (shows same sign using both hands in 4-hand shape) and this sign means “prison”.

Are “jail” and “quarantine” the same? No. Jail comes from an old French word, “jaiole”, which means “cage”, and an old Latin word, “gabiola”, which also means “cage”. Does “quarantine” mean “cage”?  While you are in jail, can you go out grocery shopping, do your errands, and then go back to jail? Obviously not. While you are quarantined, you can. There’s no cage. There’s a difference. 

I was once imprisoned 25 years ago for 4 ½ months. Now I’m a returning citizen. This means someone who should be regarded in a positive light, empowered, and given encouragement and support in seeing what potential they have in their second chance at life, all of which are important. Instead, returning citizens get an onslaught of negativity, verbal attacks, put-downs, contempt, judgement, and outright rejection. That is not a solution. 

A better sign for “quarantine” is “stay home” (shows right hand signing “stay”, moving to position under left hand which is in 5-position facing down like a roof, and “home”; also shows both hands signing “stay” and “home”) These are better signs to use than “prison” (shows both hands using the 2-shape as described above), which can be triggering.

More Animals in ASL

  • More Animals in ASL

More animal signs from a visit to the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan.