How to Identify Farmyard Animals in American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) allows you to chat about animals with Deaf friends, including animals that live out in the country. If you're planning a trip to a farm, you may need to know signs for some of the animals you'll see:

  • Cow: Make the ASL sign for the letter Y (by making a fist and then extending your thumb and pinkie finger) and place your thumb to your temple.

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    Picture a bull’s horn. (For those of you who may have grown up on concrete, a bull is a male cow.)

  • Horse: Make a fist and then extend your first two fingers and thumb, fingertips pointing up, and then place your thumb on your head above your ear and bend your fingers forward a couple of times.

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  • Sheep: Extend a bent arm in front of you, use the first two fingers of your other hand to create “scissors," and then move your “scissors” up and down the other arm. (This sign mimics shearing a sheep.)

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  • Pig: Make the ASL sign for B (holding all four fingers of one hand straight up, touching, while laying your thumb against your palm), place the top of your letter B hand under your chin, and bend your fingers down once or twice.

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  • Chicken: Cup one hand in front of your body, palm facing up. Make a fist with the other hand and extend your index finger and thumb, place the back of your hand to your chin, then open and close your index finger and thumb. Move your extended fingers to the center of your other palm and tap your hand a few times. (The movement is reminiscent of a chicken pecking the ground.)

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  • Duck: Make a fist your hand and extend your index finger, middle finger, and thumb, then place the back of your hand to your chin, and open and close your fingers and thumb.

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  • Frog: Place a fist under your chin, and then move your first two fingers out and in several times, with your thumb catching the fingers on the in movement.

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Okay, okay. You can see some of these animals at your local park or at the zoo, not just down on the farm. Whatever your occasion — whether feeding live ducks at the farm or park, or making plans for dinner — you can sign DUCK or FROG to get everyone on the same page.

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