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American Sign Language: "fast"

This version is good for speed, and speeding.

FAST:  quick, immediate.
(Stick your thumbs a little-bit between your index finger and middle fingers.  The index fingers are wrapped a bit around the outside edge of the thumbs. When I do it, I'm resting the pad of my thumbprint on the side of my middle finger, the nail of my thumb is digging slightly into the inner crook of my index finger.  Then I snap the thumbs up.



In a message dated 5/23/2011 12:17:06 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, David in Arizona writes:

Dr. Bill,
...I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine, who is training to become an ASL interpreter, over the sign FAST. Now the most common way I've seen this sign performed is the way you have it on your website. The had starting out in an L shape and snapping back and slightly up to a modified X hand shape. However, there is a variation I came across when I was in Arizona. Instead of the L hands you simply start with open relaxed 5 hands and snap them up into S handshapes. Due past injuries my hands are not exactly what you'd call "dexterous" so I find this latter version much more comfortable than the more common method and have never had a problem being understood.
During a conversation my friend stopped me and asked me why I used that particular variation and I briefly explained. He told me that the variation I use has much more intense connotation that makes it inappropriate for normal use. I responded that I used my non-manuals to distinguish between the different levels of intensities.
Well I consulted with some of the members of the Deaf community but was unable to really get a conclusive answer as to which interpretation is correct. I was hoping you could weigh in with a more conclusive statement.
Thank you very much for any help,

Dear David,
Your friend is correct. The "relaxed-5 snap into S hands" version of FAST can be thought of as meaning "very-FAST."  It is as if the additional fingers contribute to the concept of additional speed.  I tried doing the "5-S" version using a neutral facial expression but my face just naturally went into an "ooh" expression and my head did a little jerk-type motion.  I find it easy to modify this sign to mean "extremely-FAST" but it is awkward and non-standard to attempt to use the 5-S sign to covey the concept of moderately-FAST.
Dr. Bill


If you modify the signing of the sign FAST by doing it the sign either very slowly or very quickly it can mean FAST-(very) = "very fast."
If you modify the signing of SLOW by doing it the sign either more slowly or more quickly it can mean "very slow" SLOW-(very). 


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