Re: The official WWW Hand Gesture

Cynthia Clark (
Wed, 12 May 93 09:23:00 -0400

> In ASL, if you shake W's towards each other, you get "war".
> ( a push-pull sort of conflict sign, with W's for war. )
> Accurate as the connotations might be, you might avoid that
> for the official sign.

> I suggest don't try to make cute puns a language unless you are FLUENT
> in it -- or you may get more than you asked for. Depending on exactly
> how the internet sign was done, I could see more similarities to "pain"
> than to "friend". I think I would have modified it to be more like
> "story" with "wire" handshapes. Would have retained the initial "i"
> handshape, which is nice.

> If you want a sign for WWW, a very easy one is also very natural, and
> that is simply to sign W W W. When a single letter, (particularly one
> with a handshape like W) is repeated, you don't open and close your
> hand three times to make the W's -- rather you lean the W forward and
> down, fingers straight out almost horizontal, and kind of bounce
> downward thrice, each time a little to the (right-handed) signer's
> right from where the previous one bounced. The third time down, you
> hold it there a moment, and don't bounce it back up. This
> leaning-forward and boucing-to-the-signer's-right is readily understood
> to mean repitition.

> It would be like the sign for the number "22" or "33", except thrice,
> and in ASL the number 3 uses the thumb, index, and middle fingers,
> whereas the W uses the three middle fingers.

> It has the advantage that a deaf person who does not know your
> secret code sign for WWW would still see "WWW", just as if you said
> "WWW" to a hearing person who did not know what WWW means, but could
> recognize it later, or plug it into context hearing "World Wide Web".
> ("World" uses "W" handshapes, and "Wide" can. I don't know web. )

> The only danger I can see with "WWW" is some similarity to "world war
> 2" or "world war 3". The context of this proper noun is different
> enough from that proper noun that it's probably not a problem.

> The best signs come not down from above, bestowed graciously on the
> deaf by a hearing authority, but rather trickle up from below, from the
> actual communities and their living languages... and there should
> be some deaf communities somewhere on the net, but I'm ignorant where.

As a deaf person myself, I'm fluent in both ASL and English sign languages.
I had an interesting conversation with Tim Berners-Lee, Chris Weider,
Mitra, Steven Foster and Naomi Courter. We actually invented a new sign
for "Internet" - just like what Tim mentioned earlier. The sign has the
combination as a "network", "friend" and "wire".

I've been thinking about WWW something similiar, but to "distribute
information worlwide on-line". Perhaps we could get together again
at Amsterdam if anyone interested in sharing ideas to create a new sign
for WWW.

I agree that we could avoid anything "war" or "cutesy".


Cynthia Clark