ASL is Awesome
Nap, Food, Magi, Pick Up. What do these four things have in common?
When translated into American Sign Language, the signs are identical except for the direction and palm orientation in which they are signed. Let me tell you why that's bloody awesome.
The other day, I was driving with my partner, Andrés, and discussing plans for the evening. Once we had agreed on what we would do, I summarized it up without realizing the linguistic delight I was about to create.
"Nap, food, Magi, pick up." (For the uninitiated, Magi is a new and extremely well written anime. It's on Netflix and Crunchyroll if you think you'll enjoy a story that blends Aladdin, Alibaba, and Sinbad's classic tales into a single universe with plenty of original twists.)
Nap generally translates to sleep, so I drew all my fingers together on one hand while moving them down in front of my face, as if closing my eyelids.
Food is the same hand gesture, but with fingers already together and directly approaching my mouth - a fairly universal sign beyond ASL and Deaf language.
Magi really is a fancy word for magic, so I signed that. Twisting my wrist like holding a wand, again with fingers together, and then spreading them apart as if casting a spell. Yeah, we Deaf know how to have fun with our signs.
Pick up - palm facing down, fingers apart, then hand moving up while fingers come together. This translation isn't quite correct because pick up should be signed with just the thumb and middle finger coming together. All fingers in the same orientation and direction indicates something being absorbed, like a sponge. It can have more abstract meanings depending on the context as well. But by this point I had recognized the perfect ASL poem I had accidentally created, so I went with this one for the sake of completing the rhyme.
Those four signs rhyme because they are the exact same handsign, just signed with different palm orientations and directions. The phrase has the same visually lyrical quality as an aural poem would.
Four separate and diverse word/phrases in English became an extremely concise and perfectly coherent four-beat ASL poem. That's bloody awesome.