Some research findings show that the most iconic signs are the easiest to remember. In other words, a sign that looks like the thing it represents. To some extent that is true. We’ve all seen people signing across a busy room that there is a phone call or asking if someone wants a drink. Easy to read? Easy to remember?
Many of the signs in the Makaton vocabulary have been taken from British Sign Language, particularly those that are iconic and easy to produce. There are some signs that just stick with me. I love teaching them and explaining the reasoning behind the actual sign production.
Sister – crook of index finger taps the nose twice (because sisters are nosey!)
To read – open a “book” in front of you then move it side to side (we don’t actually move the book when we read!)
Sweet – index finger twists on tooth at the corner of the mouth (like you have a bit of toffee stuck in your teeth!)
Dirty – wrists together, top fist makes small twisting upward movements (you just can’t make this sign without lots of facial expression!)
Expensive – fluttering the open hand (sign for pain) over your pocket (literally translates to pain in the pocket!)
Brother – rub knuckles together in front of the body (because brothers fight!)
Pencil – take an imaginary pencil from behind the ear and write (I had a teacher at school who walked around all day with a pencil behind his ear!)
Chocolate – “C” shaped finger makes small anti clockwise movement on the chin, as if you are wiping chocolate off (as if you would waste chocolate!)
Forget – isolated index finger touches the temple, then the whole hand spreads open, with palm facing away at head height (I love this sign, it’s like you are pointing to something in your head, then it disappears! So it was there one minute, then it’s gone).
Biscuit – one of the first signs in the Core Vocabulary and possibly one of the most difficult to produce at first. The non-dominant hand touches the opposite shoulder, and the cupped dominant hand taps the non-dominant elbow twice (in days of old, when sailors were at sea for months on end, they used to tap the biscuit barrels to get rid of the weevils!)
I could write for hours about my favourite signs. There are so many, and they all make sense.
I hope you had a go at practising these signs too.