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Infants . One-Year-Olds . Two-Year-Olds . Colors . Foods . Extended Family . Stories . Generalized Signs .

Infant Sign Language

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Signs For Colors


  1. red
    - red .

    Sign - In all color signs the right fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically and the elbow held high. The sign for RED is placed close in front of the right shoulder. For pure 100% red the tip of the thumb is seen as on the horizon from the eye.

    Hint - Compare to GREEN and BLUE. The three 100% full intensity R-G-B colors are in the same horizontal plane with RED and WHITE.

    Tech - The (Hexdecimal) hex color #FF0000 has only the RED light source (the first two characters) turned full on and the GREEN and BLUE light sources are turned to full OFF. For a more complete description of HTML and HEX colors go to 3Schools

    Comment - The colors may seem to be arbitrarily placed but in fact they are logically located based on the response of the human eye. With this system, after the four colors RED GREEN BLUE and BLACK are fixed in space ALL of the other colors fall into a logical position.


  2. green
    - green .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically and the arm is extended to the full out position directly in front of the the left shoulder.

    Hint - Compare to WHITE and MAGENTA which are also on the same horizontal plane.

    Tech - The three primary additive colors, (R-G-B = Red-Green-Blue) are placed on a horizontal plane at eye level as is WHITE at the center. These colors can be mixed and and still remain on the horizontal plane. Hex color for Green is #00FF00.


  3. BLUE
    - blue .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically and with the elbow held high and it is held above the left shoulder next to the left cheek.

    Hint - Compare to RED and GREEN.

    Tech - The Hex color for Blue is #0000FF


    - yellow .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically to the horizon and it is held arm half extended out from the right shoulder.

    Hint - Compare to RED and GREEN.

    Tech - In additive colors, such as you see on a computer screen, YELLOW is made up of RED and GREEN. Yellow Hex=#FFFF00


  5. CYAN
    - cyan .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically to the horizon and it is held arm half extended from its own shoulder.

    Hint - Compare to GREEN and BLUE. .

    Tech - Cyan is made up of equal amounts of Blue and Green it's Hex color=#00FFFF

    Comment - Cyan, yellow and magenta are the colors commonly used in the printing industry and you can usually see them in their pure forms as printing alignment marks in the Sunday comics. .

    - magenta .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically to the horizon and it is held with the tip of the thumb just at the eye.

    Hint - Compare to RED and BLUE. Purple is darker and bluer than magenta.

    Tech - The color Magenta is made up of equal amounts of Red and Blue it's Hex number is #FF00FF


  7. BLACK
    - black .

    Sign - The signing hand (the right hand) is closed into a fist with the tip of the thumb held vertically at navel level and with the arm half extended.

    Hint - All color signs are done with a fist shaped hand, with a thumb up and with the elbow held high. Compare to WHITE and GREY. Notice that white, grey and black, are all located in a vertical column the same distance from the body. This column defines the arm half extended position found in many other signs as in YES.

    Tech - The Hex color for black = #000000 because it has all three colored light sources (RED-GREEN-BLUE - RGB) turned to 00 which equals full OFF.


  8. WHITE
    - white .

    Sign - Closed fist with the thumb extended up. The top of the thumb is exactly on the horizon with the elbow held high and the arm halfway extended.

    Hint - Compare to LIGHT OFF and BLACK and LIGHT ON and GREY. If the thumb is then lowered into the gripped fist position it means hold the light in the ON position.

    Tech - The Hex color #FFFFFF has all three R-G-B light sources turned to full ON. If you look at your computer screen with a magnifying glass you can easily see the glowing colored dots.


  9. GREY
    - grey .

    Sign - The fist is closed with the thumb extended vertically and held just half way along the vertical column between WHITE and BLACK at the level of the xiphoid process.

    Hint - Black, white and grey each have equal amounts of the three primary (RGB) light emitting colors (Red-Green-Blue), but grey doesn't have as much as white and black doesn't have any at all.

    Tech - Hex color for GREY is #AAAAAA which is half way between Black Hex=#000000 and white Hex=#FFFFFF

    These colors are the half way to black and are for definitional purposes and you are not expected to learn at first but just to know that they exist and have been defined. However, these are exactly defined colors and color locations will be useful for stating colors more specifically.

  10. Dark Red . . . . . .

  11. Dark Yellow . . . .

  12. Dark Green . . . .

  13. Dark Cyan . . . . .

  14. Dark Blue . . . . .

  15. Dark Magenta . . .

For a Google search on current information on RGB color theory.

Some good sites are: color theory. - EFG - The University of Birmingham

This sign language system uses a logical arrangement of signs based on scientific research rather than random special signs for each and every color. After you know the signs for these few basic colors you can then sign accurately about any color whatsoever. When learning these signs it isn't necessary to understand the underlying logic but later when it is understood the necessity to learn hundreds of arbitrary, unrelated and illogical names for colors vanishes. Some technical details (Tech:) The Hex numbers have been included to add precision for later needs. This system is simple for the child to learn because when they learn the sign for banana they automatically learn the sign for the color yellow and when they learn the sign for apple the automatically learn the sign for red. In fact what the child is simply signing the fruit sign in the red location. When the color red itself is referred to one simply uses the sign for color placed in the red color space location. Many categories have things within them which can be named by their color and so all the child needs to learn to refer to something specific of that category is to learn a single sign for that entire category.

CIE Chromaticity Chart

Seen here is the top layer of full intensity colors. These colors are all at eye level with the thumb tip to the horizon. To keep this system scientifically defined and therefore potentially accurate I have defined the eye as being at 0.333 X - 0.0 Y and 520 GREEN as being at maximum extension of the right arm out in front of the left shoulder. Equal energy WHITE then becomes 0.333 X - 0.333 Y with the arm half extended directly in front of the nose. Go to the CIE Chromaticity Chart for an explaination of why the chart has the strange shape. The black triangle represents the limits of a computer monitors ability to represent colors. Using a prism and sunlight you can create more vivid colors than can be shown on a monitor. The 100% RED (FF0000) is at the right corner. Those most vivid colors are the corner points (380, 520, 700) defined by this signing system. Since you will be viewing this on a monitor the RGB positions will be those at the points of the black triangle. When outdoors under natural sunlight you will be able to see move vivid colors and you can sign them by using the more extreme positions implied in this chart.

Another view of the color space shows how white is with the thumb at eye level with the arm half extended and black is at belly button level directly below it. Middle grey is half way between them. All points on the bottom level are pure black but they can be useful for signing by starting at those defined points and moving a little into nearbye dark but colorful zones.

Color Space for signs

All of the basic color positions are shown here with a black background. The magenta color position is just in front of the nose. Black and grey are outlined so you may see them more clearly.

This a slice through the signing color-space at the CIE = 0.333-Y level showing variations from cyan to red and white to black. The defined points are are at the colors and also at the points halfway between the cornors.

Hexadecimal Colors Identifacation Numbers

This is a representation of what a prizm would do to sunlight. Do the experiment in a dark room and compare the vividness of the light. The colors you are presently looking at may appear vivid on screen but when compared to pure spectral light from a prizm they will look washed out.

COMMENTARY - The signs for all colors have the right hand closed into a fist with the thumb extended horizontally and the elbow held high. To avoid left-right confusions in this signing system, it is necessary to declare the right hand as the signing hand. See the evolution of righthandness for some likely reasons for why righthandness and our human ability to speak are related. All you and your infant need to know the positions of Red, White, Blue; Green, Yellow and Black; Cyan Magenta to know and use the whole system. However, for artists and others wanting a more exact system I have defined 39 basic positions. After you know these positions you can specify any color accurately by starting at one of these known position and then moving your signing hand away from that position toward a secondary quality. For example, starting at red and moving half way toward white would indicate a bright pink or starting at dark magenta and moving toward ones left would indicate a royal purple.

The following is optional reading.

With these precisely defined starting points all colors then have a precise location. Let me redefine them for those who have the interest, for those who don't all you really need is to view the pictures and movies of the formations of the colors. The defined colors are: Red, Green, Blue - Yellow, Cyan, Magenta and White which are all on the horizon line from the eye to the tip of the thumb. The colors directly below those, on the (50%) Grey level and the Black level may also be used as fixed starting points. They are Dark-Red, Dark-Green, Dark-Blue - Dark-Yellow, Dark-Cyan, Dark-Magenta, and in the middle Dark-White which is Middle-Grey. They are all located with the little finger on a horizontal plane at the level of the xiphoid process. It is the little hard lump a hand width above the navel. Directly below these is a plane with the tip of the thumb at the level of the navel where all of the additive colors are at zero and appear black. However, they can be used as fixed points to move away from to identify the very dark colors.

The method for using extension to define a very precise color is similar to that used by sailors with a compass. A little to the East of North is NE and a little to the East of North East is ENE. In a way this method is better because it always moves from the larger value to the smaller value as in decimals. If you start at one of the R-G-B colors (or any of the defined basic colors (and slide a bit toward the grey center column the color indicated becomes more neutral grey or if it is moved more toward white it becomes more pastel. Starting at red and moving toward the center will make your color pink. If you moved your hand half way from the fixed red location toward the fixed yellow location the color indicated would be orange. If then you move from this orange position down a half way to black the color indicated would be brown. Alternatively you could start at Dark-Red and move half way to Dark-Yellow and achieve the same position which would also be Brown. To make a color lighter move toward WHITE and to make a color darker move toward BLACK to make a color less intense move toward GREY. To make a dark pink, start at white move to red and back and then down a bit. Do it all as one continious motion and pause at the end, which indicates the color you intend to communicate. When signing a color in the midts of a conversation it is good to start at white as a lead in to the intention to sign a color and then move on to the color Or if something looks black but spectral reflections are green you could start in the Black position and move back and forth to Dark-Green. This oscillation indicates the uncertain shimmering that you get with most cars painted with metallic glitter paint. All of this color theory is a bit technical but it is necessary for definitional clarification. All you really need to know is the hand locations for the basic colors and the rest follows automatically.

Liability disclaimer statement: These Probaways contain new and unique information that has been created, tested and retested by me alone. You must approach these findings and materials very carefully as your results may differ greatly from my experience and I can offer no recompensation of any kind for any injuries.

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