Pacific Northwest Edition | Regional Signs

Blog post has been expanded some to explain signs.

Hello, and welcome to a new Regional Signs post. I want to add for the previous video, I had one sign that I wasn’t sure if it was used only in Canada or used in the US too. I found out that yeah, it’s used here too. The word is rude, and it’s signed with bent index and middle fingers touching the side of the cheek and twisting, as shown in the gif below. Now I’m going to do today’s signs.

As you can see from the title, all the signs will be from the PNW. I want to emphasize before I go on. What I tell you today, some of them I know for sure that I’ve only seen here. Some are regional signs, but they’re also used in other areas. So it may not be a PNW-only sign, but it’s used here and not in some regions. I also want to add this. Most of my signs today are from Washington. I will mention it if it’s from somewhere else, but if I don’t say where it’s from, that means it’s from Washington. As always, I will show you the common way of expressing that word, then the regional sign.

Salmon. Commonly, it’s spelled out. I’ve seen some people sign it this way, [S-FISH].

Please don’t. *chuckles* Either spell it, or use the regional sign for Washington and Alaska. It’s representing the fish’s lower jaw jutting out.

This is one I’ve showed in another video, I will repeat it here: stress. Commonly, it’s signed similar to pressure.

Here in the PNW, it’s signed somewhat like rubber band, but vertically. Additional info: I mention this in my other video explaining stress. I’ve noticed that people in the PNW use both signs, but it’s dependent on the situation. The pressure one is typically used when the stress is external, such as from work, school, people in general, strangers. The rubber band one is typically used when it’s internal, from family, friends, self.

Prepare. Commonly, it looks similar to plan, but with a bouncing sideways motion rather than a sliding sideways motion.

The PNW signs with the same sliding sideways motion as plan, but starts with one fist on top of the other, and both open into a 5 handshape, both touching the whole time. This one is actually used on the west coast, and it seems maybe the South too.

This is another sign I’ve mentioned before, pretend. The common is either signed like fake twice, or make up.

Here in the PNW, we tend to sign this. To me, it looks like the gesture for talking done backwards or out of the side of your mouth, so in a way it’s like you’re not talking truth.

Queer. Commonly, there’s two ways – fingerspelling the word out or signing rainbow with both hands.

In BC, they sign it with a Q/G handshape touching the chin then moving down and twisting. If you use this sign, nothing against you! For me personally, it looks too much like “gay with a twist” so I’m not a big fan of this particular sign.

Milkshake. Many will just fingerspell it, or sign literally MILK-SHAKE.

Here, some people sign with an U tapping the chin. That’s because of the straws, there’s usually two stuck in there, so the U looks like two straws.

This is another one I’ve mentioned before, strawberry. Many of you already know there’s a long list of regional signs for this word. I’m not going to tell you all of them. The most common one seems to be a F twisting away from the side of the chin, a bit like holding the leaves and pulling away from your mouth.

In the PNW, it’s signed with a combination – RED then a F on the nose. I don’t love that sign, I tend to prefer the more common sign.

Pickle. We have a few. The most common is fingerspelling pickle. I’ve also seen many people will sign a P twisting on the side of the chin. But with that, sometimes people will confuse it with pineapple, so maybe not. I’ve also seen an index finger twisting on the neck or side of the mouth.

My sign growing up, and it seems this is a Washington only sign: a G handshape touching the side of the mouth then moving away and shaking.

I discussed this with a friend analyzing it, trying to figure out why. We think it may be this, if it’s true I don’t know, but makes sense to us. Pickle this way, why? G, green, the color is obviously green. G on the cheek because it’s bitter or sour, whatever. The shake is because you tend to take the jar, pull out a pickle, and give a shake to get the liquid off.

Last word for today, busted, as in caught doing something. The common sign is as if you’re caught or trapped.

In the PNW, I suspect this is a very specific region, because I never saw that growing up, I never used that sign, but several people do use this sign using the same 4-handshape, but touching under the eye and moving away quickly like see. Kind of like I saw you, I caught you.

That’s it for today. I hope you learned new signs! As always, if you know of a sign that is Washington’s, or the PNW’s, let me know in the comments. I will add them into the next video. Or any regional sign across the US, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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