40 Native American Signs
The Indian Sign Language is the world's most easily learned language because it is elemental, basic, logical, and the signs in general are what should properly be made to illustrate the idea--the language being largely idiomatic--conveying ideas.
When you beckon with your finger you are saying the word COME;
when you wave your hand outwards you say GO.
When you point upwards with your index finger you say UP.
When you point downwards you say DOWN.
When you elevate the flat right hand, you say HIGH,
and when you hold it down near the ground, you say LOW.
All nations of earth have nodded the head for YES,
and have shaken it for NO.
If you will nod the right index finger beside the head, you say YES;
and if, waist high, you simply turn the right hand over, you say NO.
GOOD means "level with the heart," and, therefore, if you will swing the right flat hand out in a semi-circle from the heart towards the right you say the word GOOD.
BAD means "thrown away." Therefore, the motion of expelling something downwards with the right hand makes the word BAD.
When you point your right thumb at your breast, you say ME.
When you point your right index finger at the person you are with, you say YOU.
When you point the same finger at someone else in the party, you say HIM or HER.
When you point the separated first and second fingers of the right hand out in front of the eyes, you say SEE or LOOK.
When you pass the partly closed right hand downwards past the mouth, you say EAT or FOOD.
When you elevate the cupped hand near the mouth, you say DRINK;
and when, waist high, you make as though dipping a handful of something with cupped hand, you say WATER.
The flat hands passed alternately one beyond the other means WALK,
and the same sign made more rapidly means RUN.
To incline the head to right, towards the palms of both hands, means SLEEP,
and to pass the flat hand slightly outwards from the chin means SPEAK or TALK.
To cup the right hand behind the right ear means to LISTEN.
The right index finger pointed upwards beside the face means MAN, or "the upright one";
and to pass the slightly hooked fingers of the right hand downwards over the hair means WOMAN, the basic conception being "she combs her hair."
DAY means the opening up and
NIGHT means the closing over, and the signs are simple and logical. (Pages 19 and 39.)
The thumb and index finger of right hand held in an incomplete circle and pointed at the sky means SUN.
The same sign held flat near the waist means MONEY--a coin;
the same sign with hand laid on the breast means a MEDAL,
and if made against the left shoulder means a BRAND,
while if tipped to the month like a cup it means WANT, or "I am thirsty for."
The fingers curved and pointing up, held near the ground, naturally means GRASS.
The same sign, waist high, means BRUSH,
while one hand held out in front at height of shoulder, fingers all pointing up, means a TREE,
both hands held similarly means a FOREST.
The same two hands held close to the breast means PEOPLE.
One fist held up out in front of breast means a MOUNTAIN,
while both fists means a chain of MOUNTAINS.
Counting is indicated by the fingers, starting with the little finger of right hand.
As all articles and small qualifying adjectives are left entirely out--this being a skeleton language of ideas--a smaller vocabulary or code is used, the verbs and nouns being almost enough to convey the intelligence. Remember that 85% of all signs are made with the right hand. I believe the foregoing forty words will prove my opening statement that the language is entirely logical and elemental. I would suggest that you go over each of these words carefully, by checking them against the illustrations and their explanations in the book.
Splendid results in the study of sign have been attained by those who, as they go along, occasionally have a session with someone else who is interested in sign. If you are in scouting, you might start with a few available scouts or scout masters, otherwise with a few friends, and meet with them once a week for a definite session for an hour or two. You will be surprised at the way the interest and inquiry thus caused will increase your own knowledge, and how quickly the others will commence to bring out ideas that will greatly help you.
After one or two meetings of the little club, require everybody to make up and bring to the next meeting some short phrases or sentences in the sign language. Working carefully along these lines you will undoubtedly be gratified at the advancement you will make.
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Last modified: October 15, 2016.