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Coronavirus named ‘Sign of the Year’ by Swiss Deaf Society

The sign chosen depicts both the shape and rapid spread of the virus. Keystone / National Institutes Of Health Ha

The Swiss Federation of the Deaf has designated ‘coronavirus’ as the sign of the year.  

This content was published on December 15, 2020 - 12:14
Keystone-SDA/ac

"The choice was almost unanimous in our community," announced the organisation in a statement on Tuesday. The selection is an indication of both the dominance of the pandemic in current events and the ways in which sign languages have evolved over time, it said. The new sign first made its appearance this spring. 

For once, the Swiss federation notes, this sign is basically the same in sign languages around the world despite some slight variations. The general idea is to represent the virus both in its form, the dot representing its nucleus and the fingers the peaks, and in its wide and rapid spread thanks to the gesture made by one hand around the fist of the other. 

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This is the fifth consecutive year that the Swiss Federation of the Deaf has designated the sign of the year. Past winners include "Trump" in 2016, "Roger Federer" in 2017, Federal Councilor "Alain Berset" in 2018 and "Greta Thunberg" in 2019. 

Deaf communities around the world frequently create new signs so that sign language interpreters do not have to spell headline-making words using the traditional alphabet. 


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