I've seen the sign FOX used as a version of
the sign for "freshman." I don't recommend you use "FOX" for
freshman, but I thought I'd mention it just in case you see it.
In a message dated 3/27/2012 10:19:36 A.M. Pacific Daylight
Time, volleyjen0416 writes:
Dear Dr. Bill,
I was wondering if you could tell me the possible definitions for a
sign I will describe to you?
It's an "R" on the dominant hand that brushes forward off of the
nose. Someone told me (I think) that in Texas that sign means
"freshman," but I wasn't sure. (I'm in Michigan
and I've never been to Texas so of course I don't know any local
The version of Freshman / Freshmen to which you are referring
doesn't brush "forward" off the nose, it brushes sideways across the
nose twice. I do not like that sign being used for Freshman but
indeed it is a variation that shows up in Texas (and elsewhere). You
will also see in Texas the more widespread (nation-wide) version
that taps the tip of the non-dominant ringer finger twice with the
One of the reasons I don't like using the "R"-hand brushing the nose
is because it conflicts with an initialized version of the sign for
RAT and/or MOUSE which is done with the same movement using the
index finger. If I have to use the both "rat" and "mouse" in the
same sentence I will sign RAT using the index finger and MOUSE using
the pinkie. Many ASL teachers will encourage you away from using
initialized versions of signs but the fact is such signs are "out
there" so what I try to do is show both signs and then indicate that
my preferred sign is generally the non-initialized version as long
as the meaning is made clear via context. For what it is worth, I
also recall seeing the sign for FOX being used to mean "freshman."
(Again, I would encourage you to stick with the standard nation-wide
general version of "freshman" that taps the ring finger of the
non-dominant hand with the dominant palm).
In a message dated
3/27/2012 7:57:11 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, volleyjen0416 writes:
Is that the only meaning for that sign or a similar sign?
The Deaf person signed something that looked like "RAT" then Texas.
It doesn't make sense to me that he was saying "Freshman Texas!"
He did this a couple of times.
I use the National sign for "freshman" but when I interpret I try to
use the signs my clients prefer.
A Deaf friend of mine from Wisconsin signed "DUCK" for freshman,
have you seen that version before?
Thanks for your help.
Maybe your Deaf client was trying to tell you that "In Texas
they use the sign 'RAT' to mean 'freshman'?"
Okay, if the "R" hand moves forward from the mouth area it might
be an "initialized" version of the sign TRUE which would then be
interpreted as REAL. Or if he had his eyebrows up it might have
Hmmm, DUCK for "Freshman" eh? I'll have to remember that for the
next time I run into any Deaf "Sconnies" (Wisconsinites). I
personally haven't met anyone in the five states I've lived in
that use DUCK for Freshman, but hey the sign DUCK shows up in
some of the weirdest places. I once met a fellow (d/Deaf) who
signs "DUCK MAGAZINE" to refer to a "girly magazine" -- if you
get my drift. If I run into him again I'll have to ask him why
he signs it that way and/or where he picked that up.