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COOK: The American Sign Language (ASL) sign for "cook"

The sign for "cook" uses "flat hands." The dominant hand represents a piece of food. The non-dominant hand represents a cooking surface. Put the food on the cooking surface and then turn the food over.




Memory aid: The sign for cook is sort of like flipping a hamburger patty or a fish.


A variation for how to sign COOK:




If you want to describe an action while cooking, such as flipping the food over:



If you are referring to a style of cooking, such as "frying" food you can sign:



If you wanted to mention the type of cookware you are using, a common sign for POT is:



To turn COOK into CHEF, add the PERSON-[agent] sign:




Sample sentence: Have you taken a cooking class before?











Also see:  STOVE

Context: The more context -- the fewer signs are needed to sign something.
For example, suppose I asked you how to sign:
"Have you ever taken a cooking class?"

Before showing me any signs, a good response would be to ask me what is the context.

Why? Because depending on the context we can use fewer signs.

Suppose the context is: Two people chatting and person "A" asks person "B" if they have ever taken a cooking class. Person "B" responds with "NO" and then signs:

Thus given enough context the "right" way to sign "Have you ever taken a cooking class?" -- the right way to sign it would be to:

Look at your conversation partner, raise your eyebrows, and point at them.

If you sign any more than that -- you are using more signs than would be culturally and contextually appropriate and thus signing in a non-native way.

A minor debate in ASL instruction and learning groups has to do with whether or not you can use the sign MAKE when referring to the preparation of food.
This brings up the topic of whether or not ASL signs can have more than one meaning. (I firmly believe the answer is yes.)

I'm totally okay with the concept of signing:  I MAKE PEANUT+BUTTER JELLY SANDWICH.

For those who argue that "technically" we are not "making" the peanut butter (but rather we are putting together existing parts) I would suggest that English speakers are not "making" the peanut butter in their sandwich either. Yet in English it is still common to use the term "make" to refer to "putting something together."

I would also suggest that the ASL sign MAKE can mean to "put something together" (rather than just the Godlike act of rearranging atoms and molecules).

It seems to me that the basis of the sign COOK is the flipping of something on a grill. (And grills tend to be used for applying heat).

Again though, the right or wrongness of language is based on whether or not a significant percentage of people use the language in a specific way to successfully communicate.

So it is good to observe how lots of people sign while, of course, also giving increased weight (consideration / respect) to the signing of those for whom signing is the main way they communicate and/or who have been signing their whole lives while living amongst others who have been signing their whole lives.

I think it is important to teach and promote signing in ways that are reflective of how socially active native Deaf adult signers sign (including when discussing the preparation of food). Yes, of course that often involves the sign COOK -- yet I propose to you that it also (in real life) often involves the sign MAKE, and to a limited extent -- PREPARE or other related signs.
When referring to the making regular uncooked (no heat involved) PBJ sandwiches. -- I don't recall having ever seen skilled native or native-like signers sign "COOK" a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Oh sure, if you are making a toasted PBJ" that involves heat you might see the sign COOK show up but even then the sign would probably be in a rhetorical phrase such as "COOK HOW? fs-PANINI depiction-"close a panini press."
However, if no "heat" is involved I don't think I'd sign I COOK a PBJ sandwich. Personally I'd just sign I MAKE SANDWICH.

I  brought this topic up in an online group:
Discussion topic: The use of the sign COOK when working with food.
Focus question: Do we COOK a PBJ sandwich or do we MAKE a PBJ sandwich (in ASL)?

Some Deaf do use the sign COOK when referring to the making of food but many (Deaf) people responded that they use MAKE when discussing preparing food and tend to sign COOK when applying heat to food "or" (and this is important) the act of cooking in a very general way.
I ENJOY COOK. (I enjoy cooking).

If your local instructor or a local Deaf person in your social circle feels strongly about it then by all means feel free to sign COOK (or MAKE) depending on whichever they prefer.  Life is too short to be arguing about signs when you could be eating (a PBJ sandwich) instead.



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