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American Sign Language: "step-father"

The sign for "step-father" has a few variations. 

A very popular version of the sign for "stepfather" uses the sign for "second" as in "second-hand" or "turn-taking."  The sign for "second hand" has many meanings including, "used" as in a "used car" or with a bit larger movement it can mean "your turn."  This is not meant to be an insult. In ASL it is simply a way to refer to the idea that a stepfather is "taking a turn at being someone's father." 
In this version you combine the signs for "SECOND-HAND" and "FATHER." 

STEP-FATHER (second-hand version)

It is also very common to simply spell S-T-E-P and then sign FATHER.
For example, here is a sentence where I sign, "What does the term 'stepfather' mean?"
= "S-T-E-P FATHER, what-MEAN?"

There is a version of stepfather that combines "FALSE" + "DAD."
I personally don't like using it for stepfather since I use it to mean "foster father."

STEPFATHER (false dad version)

There is a version of stepfather in which the index finger moves down and back up using a very quick movement.

STEPFATHER:  (one finger variation)

While I don't tend to use the "one finger" variation for STEPMOTHER, I got an email from Dr. Lisalee Egbert. She uses the one-handed version for both stepmother and stepfather. 

Notes from Dr. Bill regarding the "one finger variation" of STEPFATHER and STEPMOTHER:
A "one movement/one location" sign has an advantage over a "two movement/two location" sign since the single movement sign has "economy" in its favor. The "one finger" sign is a strong variation in some parts of the country and I think it is actually increasing in popularity. I can certainly see why Dr. Egbert would use it and I think it is a terrific sign. For me personally though I think I'll still stick with the "second hand" version of "stepfather/stepmother" as the version I teach my own classes. Also remember the "safest" version will likely be to spell STEP when used as part of the sign for "stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, etc."


STEPMOTHER:  another version:

Just in case you are wondering, here is the sign for "STEP." This is a version of the sign for walk that only takes "one step."  Do NOT use this sign as part of the sign for step-father during an ASL test  (unless you want to give your instructor a chuckle).

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