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American Sign Language:  "sloppy"




A student asks:  "When you have a moment, I’d like to run something past you. According to one of my ASL dictionaries, the sign for “farm” and “farmer” is the same as the sign for “sloppy” and “bum.” This seems quite disrespectful to me and I was wondering if you know how this sign came about. I appreciate how hard farmers work (especially in the past when there was no modern equipment). It just seems odd to me that a culture who fought (and still fights) for respect would choose to refer to another “culture” in a manner that (appears) disrespectful. Or am I completely off-base on this?
- Name on file


Dear Student,
While there are some similarities between the signs "FARM" and "SLOPPY" -- these are definitely two different signs.  The movement of the sign for SLOPPY has a "flinging" motion at the end of the sign as if flinging slop from your hand.  Whereas the sign for "FARM" ends after it crosses the chin.  Additionally the facial expression is much different between the two signs.  SLOPPY uses a disgusted or sometimes careless facial expression (depending on the connotation of the sign).
-Dr. Bill

Also see: FARM


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