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BREASTFEED:  (variation 1):
This version uses a combination of "BREASTS" + "NOURISH/feed"


BREASTFEED:  (variation 2)
This version means "suck on breast."  It can be used to mean breastfeeding.
Pull the hand forward away from the breast as you change the hand to a flattened "O" shape.

BREASTFEED:  (variation 3)
Note: I've also seen the sign regular sign "MILK" done with the pinkie side of the hand hand an inch or so in front of (but not touching) the breast. (As if squeezing milk out).
This version of the sign is considered somewhat rude by some people.

Optional Reading / Discussion:

In a message dated 12/18/2007 9:02:04 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, lora@ _______ writes:
Dear Dr. Vicars,

I am a mother of two. I taught several basic signs to my older child with the aid of your website. Currently we are signing to our youngest son who is 8 months old. Both our children, my husband, and I are hearing.

I read the several options for BREASTFEEDING. Currently we sign MOMMY and MILK. It would be so much faster to combine the signs and sign MILK while my thumb is on my chin for the sign MOMMY. Basically it would be thumb on chin, and squeezing the remaining fingers.

I don't want to inadvertently sign something inappropriate, or accidentally be using the sign for something else. Would this be an appropriate contraction of two signs that my son could use when he wants to nurse?

Many thanks,

L.R. (name on file)
Dear L.R.,
First of all, the sign you describe is not an existing ASL sign so there is no danger of it duplicating an offensive sign.  The combined movement, location, and shape of the of the sign are not offensive.
While I wouldn't go so far as to promote such a sign for widespread use by others, I see no reason why it couldn't be a delightful form of shared communication between a mother and her child.  It wouldn't be "ASL." It would be a "home-sign" that held meaning for people in and associated with your home.  Mothers often come up with special words for use with their children while communicating via spoken language.  The same principle certainly extends to use of signed languages.  Most of such words never make it to widespread use, but who knows, 20 years from now your son and his future wife might use the same sign with their newborn (your future grandchild). 
Dr. V
(Note to self: Neologism / Protologism)



American Sign Language University ASL resources by Dr. William Vicars
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