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American Sign Language: "guest"

The sign for "guest" generally uses a combination of the signs sometimes labeled as WELCOME / hire / invite and the PERSON sign.


WELCOME / hire / invite:




Also see: WELCOME

Also see: VISIT


Additional discussion:


Question:  A student asks:
How do you sign:  "A guest is an invited visitor?"

Response:  In English a sentence such as "A guest is an invited visitor" -- is typically used to define or help clarify the meaning of the word "guest" to someone who doesn't know the meaning of the word guest.

If the person already knows the meaning of the word "guest" there would be little reason to use the phrase "A guest is an invited visitor" other than rhetorically (for example -- to emphasize, remind, persuade, or some other rhetorical intention). 

If we are indeed using the phrase "A guest is an invited visitor" to teach or explain the meaning of the word guest to someone else it is likely we would sign something to the effect of:

fs-GUEST MEANING PERSON-[signed-somewhat-to-the-dominant-side] INVITE-[to-that-person] VISIT-[to-here].

However, if we are asking how we would sign that in ASL we need to then add more information to make it clear whether we are discussing the English word "guest" or if we are discussing the ASL sign GUEST.  The two share some meanings but do not share all of their meanings.

According to Lexico, some (but not all) of the meanings of the word "guest" include:

A person who is invited to visit the home of or take part in a function organized by another.

A person invited to participate in an official event.

A person invited to take part in a radio or television program, sports event, or other entertainment.

A person lodging at a hotel or boarding house.

A customer at a restaurant.


In ASL a GUEST is not a renter.  In ASL we sign MONTH-MONTH-PERSON (which can be glossed as RENTER) to mean someone who is lodging at a hotel or boarding house.

In ASL a GUEST is not a customer.  We tend to use the sign BUYER to mean "customer" (however some people might sign CLIENT to mean customer).

Key points:
The sign INVITE can be done directionally.  If it moves away from the body toward a host or an employer it can mean "I was invited" or "I was hired."

The sign VISIT can be paired with the non-initialized PERSON sign to mean "visitor."

The signs VISIT and VISITOR can be done directionally toward the body to mean someone who is visiting me, us, or this location.

Sometimes in English if you state that someone is a "guest" you actually mean that "this person is not paying or doesn't need to pay for the right or opportunity to visit here." 

In ASL such a meaning of "non-paying visitor" would be signed something to the effect of pointing to a pre-established referent (either present or absent) and then signing not-NEED PAY-me.

Signs to learn or review:
INVITE / hire / [including directional versions]

PARTICIPATE / PARTICIPANT / [including directional versions]
VISIT / VISITOR / [including directional versions]
SELF [third-person version]

MEANING / intention / purpose

WHAT-[rhetorical version]
fs-[GUEST] (be aware that the E in the fingerspelled version of "guest" will likely be lexicalized to the two-finger version)



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