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In a message dated 5/26/2005 12:17:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Bill, I have been searching the internet for the answer to my question, but cannot find the answer.  I have purchased your materials and thought you could help.  I am looking for a sign for "widow".  Can you help me?  Thank you so much for your web site.  I am a hearing person wanting to someday communicate in my town with deaf people. Your web site and your tapes have been very helpful.  Keep up the great work! 

Hello Shelley,
In the ASL if you are refering to woman whose husband has died and who has not remarried you would sign "HER HUSBAND DEAD" or "SHE-(index) HUSBAND DEAD."
For "widower" you'd sign, "HIS WIFE DEAD," or "HE-(index) WIFE DEAD."
If you need a general sign for "widow or widower" you could simply sign "MARRY DEAD." Which would mean that the "spouse" is dead.
Note: Lots of folks will simply use fingerspelling:  W-I-D-O-W.
"Widow" has other uses though.  It can be used to mean a woman whose husband is gone a lot due to regular or extended participation in an activity. For example, "poker."  If you were refering to a "poker widow" you'd sign, "HER HUSBAND P-O-K-E-R every-FRIDAY NIGHT, NOT-MATTER." (Which means that "it doesn't matter whatever else happens, that husband plays poker on Friday nights.)  There isn't any one particular sign for "poker widow" either.  Much depends on real life.  For example suppose he plays poker on Saturday nights?  You would simply state the situation:  "HER HUSBAND P-O-K-E-R every-SATURDAY NIGHT, MUST"
"MUST" and "NOT-MATTER" are only two examples of signs that can be used to establish this meaning of "widow."  You could use signs like: HABIT!, ADDICTED, STAY-(inflected for duration).
Dr. Bill


American Sign Language University ASL resources by Dr. William Vicars
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