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Sign of the times Trump chosen as ‘sign of the year’ by Swiss deaf society

Hand on head: 'Donald Trump' in Swiss sign language

(Swiss Deaf Association)

In a controversial election, Donald Trump has beaten off stiff competition from “Netflix”, “vegan” and “deportation” to be chosen as “sign of the year” by the Swiss Deaf Association.

Donald Trump


“The deciding factor was the sign’s simplicity, i.e. mimicking Trump’s extraordinary thatch of hair,” said Christian Gremaud, who led the organisation’s campaign. “And also the fact that the sign has really established itself in just a short period of time across Switzerland.”

It is the first time the Swiss Deaf Associationexternal link has awarded a sign of the year.

The association explained that names or terms in the media are at first spelt out using a finger alphabet, but once the word establishes itself, deaf people come up with a sign for it. Like spoken words, if it proves popular or useful, it spreads.

Every year some 250 new signs are added to the deaf dictionary. These are decided by a commission of experts, which includes teachers, linguists and researchers.

Around 10,000 people in Switzerland are deaf from birth or have serious hearing impairments, according to the Swiss Deaf Association. Almost all of them use sign language on a daily basis. In addition, around a million people in Switzerland have hearing problems.

In this video from the Swiss Deaf Association, a “professional” signer gives the sign for various new entries, including Ausschaffungshaft (detention pending deportation) and Defence Minister Guy Parmelin. It is then over to members of the public to have a go. 

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