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American Sign Language: "eat"

Use a squished "O" hand as if stuffing a piece of food into your mouth.  (Keep your mouth closed though. Thanks.)





If there are several people and/or a lot of eating going on you might see EAT done with two hands:

"Last night my family ate popcorn and watched a movie."


The sign for "eat" and the sign for "food" are used pretty much interchangeably.  Technically the sign eat should be a single motion, and the sign for food should be a double motion (if you consider these signs a noun/verb pair).  But what about the concept of "eating?"  I use a double motion to indicate a process is taking place. How about "pig out?" For that I use both hands.  In any case, I wouldn't get uptight about this sign.  If your teacher wants it one way or the it his/her way.  If you get corrected by a Deaf person, just smile and try to remember to sign it that way around that person.

Sentence: "What is your favorite food?"





Advanced discussion:

"In real life" as signed by Deaf native or "near native" signers -- the concept of "food" is often signed with "one movement."

Yes, yes, I know that many ASL 1 students have been taught by their ASL 1 instructors to do FOOD with two movements.

Yes, yes, I know many Deaf Studies majors have been taught by their linguistics instructors that nouns of noun / verb pairs are typically done with a repeated movement and verbs are done with a single movement.

"In real life" however -- it is *very* common to see FOOD signed with a single movement.

It is so common that I would suggest to you that an ASL teacher should "not" mark a student wrong for signing FOOD with a single movement.

Double movement signing of the concept "food" would tend to show up in "teacher-talk," "motherese," "novice-signing," "citation forms in dictionaries or curricula," "in low-context situations," in sentences involving both the concept "food" and the concept "eat," and on the hands of "people who have taken ASL linguistics classes." (Heh.)

An example of when the sign FOOD might be done with a single movement is when it is signed at high speed as part of a list of other items. Suppose you were to see a person sign:

Tomorrow there will be will music, discussion, food and activities.

Chances are that he / she / they would do the sign FOOD in that sentence with a single movement.

Another example is when it is signed at high speed in a phrase such as "... good food..."


I'll provide here a few links to examples of FOOD with a single movement:

"...But providing food isn't the..."

" reform, and food access."

"...more than my necessary food."

"...a place to sleep, food, and security."

If someone wanted to argue the point I could provide a hundred more such links showing FOOD done with a single movement.

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