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American Sign Language: "absent"

A vocational rehabilitation counselor from Arizona writes:

<< Dr. Bill,
I have another sign question:  "ABSENT"  I have seen "absent" done with the non-dominant hand in the 25 position, palm down.  The dominant hand pointer finger moves backward and flicks the middle finger of the non-dominant hand.  Is that a widely acceptable sign for absent?

- Dawn >>


The sign to which you are referring is: SKIP which is good for playing hooky and or "skipping" a meeting (or a class at school).  To me, the sign SKIP implies that the person doing the "skipping" had quite a bit of choice regarding showing up (in the classroom or meeting) or not.

The sign GONE works well for a general "absent / gone / not here" sign.

However, for what it is worth, I think it is okay to use the "SKIP" sign as the general equivalent of "absent" when you are referring to students who are "not in class."  I was recently chatting with a student and she mentioned that her former ASL teacher consistently used "SKIP" to mean "absent" (or at least "not in class").

I still feel though that the SKIP sign still implies a bit more "intent" than simply being GONE. However it is obvious that quite a few people (including many ASL instructors) don't make that distinction.

For example I would not use the sign GONE to indicate that Im planning on not attending a meeting in the future.

I would not sign, TOMORROW I GONE MEETING. 
Instead I would sign: TOMORROW I SKIP MEETING.

- Dr. Bill


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