Profanity in American Sign Language

Sign languages are as expressive and systematic as spoken languages, and that includes taboo words. As Benjamin Bergen writes in What the F, ‘Signers use rules of grammar, some of them specific to profanity, just like speakers of spoken languages.’ There’s also great variation in how a given idea may be conveyed – not just between sign languages or their dialects but within them.

If Cory O’Brien’s terrific post on the middle finger in American Sign Language made you want to increase your rude repertoire in ASL, look no further. The video below features a host of signers demonstrating some favourite insults and profanities. It also shows how much fun swearing can be.

The video is produced by Cut, but the participants and crew are not listed, at least nowhere obvious.

4 thoughts on “Profanity in American Sign Language

  1. Jerry A Woodlief June 3, 2018 / 10:04 pm

    As a beginner I found the signs unclear and too fast. However I enjoyed the video. The sign and signed for bullshit was clear with explanation.


  2. Mallory March 23, 2019 / 4:37 am

    This was so amazing and I loved it!


  3. C o o l m a n May 1, 2019 / 3:05 am

    Love this video!

    What font is used in the actual video I like it a lot!


  4. Carol L Lewis October 16, 2020 / 9:27 pm

    What does it mean when your index finger and middle finger are cross and up while your thumb is over a bent ring finger and pinky finger? I have cuss word stickers and I don’t no what this means


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