Learning a new language is always a two-part process. You go to class and learn the basics of polite conversation and everyday objects, like “How are you?” “What is the weather like?” and “Where is the library?” Then you go home and search on your own to try and find out how to say the dirtiest words you can think of. Everyone does this. After four years of learning French in high school, the two sentences I remember best are “I would like a ham sandwich” and “You have a porcupine stuck up your behind.” I think it’s human nature to want to learn about the raunchy side of a new culture.
It was the same in college, when I started to learn American Sign Language. My friends and I would learn new vulgar words and phrases, and excitedly share them with each other. It was so interesting to see what this other culture did to express the same taboo concepts, to see how we were united in that, hearing and deaf alike, we all thought about these unmentionable things and put names to them. And the more I learned about American Sign Language, the more I wanted to share it with people! I wanted to let everyone else see how exciting and fun it was. After two and a half years of a successful YouTube channel posting videos as I’ve learned new phrases, I’m proud to share my new book, “Super Smutty Sign Language” [St. Martin's Press, $12.99], chock full of the best and filthiest phrases I’ve learned in ASL. Here are a few examples:
How can this be one of the finest insults known to man, and still make absolutely no sense? What is a douche canoe? It’s entirely possible that no one knows, as these are two words that don’t really work together in any context. Are you in a canoe paddling through douches? Is the canoe made of douches? Urban Dictionary helps to clarify by explaining that the phrase describes a level of douche so high that one would need a canoe to contain it, which I suppose helps a little bit. Of course, because this is one of those phrases that doesn’t make any sense in English, it makes even less sense when interpreted into sign language. I think this adds to its charm.
Anyone who’s seen the movie “Wedding Crashers” knows this line, and probably enjoys it as much as I do. Learning it in sign language made me like it even more, because the sign for “motorboating” is downright amazing. It might even be the next best thing to actual motorboating. You’ve already set up that you’re talking about boobs, then you hold up your hands to represent the boobs in front of your face (in ASL, we call this a “classifier”) and go to town. Of course, you won’t find this sign in any ASL dictionary, just like you wouldn’t see this definition of “motorboating” in any English dictionary, as slang tends to be created and thrown away as culture changes and shifts.
We’ve all gotten this call. It’s after midnight, you’re almost asleep, and you hear the phone ring. This person has no intentions of getting into a full-blown relationship with you, they’re just looking for some quick intimacy with no strings attached. Hey, maybe you’ve even made this call yourself, which is totally fine. No judging. In learning how to talk about the late-night booty call in sign language, it’s actually pretty easy. You start off by saying that this is a phone call, then explain that it’s lovin’ you want. That’s it! Nothing complicated and no extra explanations, just like the booty call itself.
This is the perfect explanation for a lot of questions. “Why won’t my computer work?” Because you touch yourself at night. “Why did my football team lose the game?” Because you touch yourself at night. Anytime you wonder why the world seems to spite you, you now have an answer. That’s not to say that you should stop this daily ritual, just that it’s a great line to use. To put this into sign language is pretty straightforward. First, we ask ourselves the rhetorical question of “why?” and then we answer it. Every night, you masturbate. Of course, feel free to swap out the sign for “male masturbation” with the sign for “female masturbation” depending on the gender you’re referencing.
Sometimes, there comes a time at the end of a night of heavy drinking where you decide it would be a great idea to run naked through town. Or, maybe you really like the movie “Old School” and you’d just like to pretend like you’re Frank the Tank for an evening. In either case, if you’re in the mood for a nude stroll, you should be prepared to explain your intentions. The best equivalent for “streaking” in American Sign Language, I’ve found, is the simplest one—“naked run.” I’ve often wondered if someone from a nudist colony still calls it “streaking” when they go for a run. Perhaps it’s only referred to as “streaking” if you’re jogging among people that are clothed.
This phrase also follows my theory that the best insults make absolutely no sense when taken literally. What is a twat waffle? Do you still put syrup on it? Some say it actually has to do with a woman’s undercarriage, but others argue the insult is meaningless. Putting aside these small mysteries, we’re left with an amazing phrase that’s ridiculously fun to say in English. Learning to say “twat waffle” in sign language only intensifies how laughably absurd the words are. Fun fact: The sign for “pancake” is almost identical to the sign for “waffle,” but instead of using a “W” for the hand that scoops and flips over, you would use a flat hand. I don’t think “twat pancake” has quite the same ring to it, though.
This phrase became popular after the movie “Super Troopers” came out, but I think it’s now become enough of a staple in pop culture that it stands on its own. It’s entirely possible that a whole generation of young men started growing facial hair for the sole purpose of being able to say this line. If you were able to, it was totally worth it. Not only were you able to ask this question, but as an awesome added bonus, you also had a sweet mustache that caused all the ladies to swoon at your manliness. What makes this phrase even more amazing in sign language are the signs for “mustache” and “ride.” The sign for “mustache” has you trace the outlines of a pornstache, which makes it pretty epic. Then you have the sign for “ride,” which looks pretty vulgar on its own, let alone when signed near the mouth. Put the two signs together in a sentence, and you have the makings of an ultra-suave pick-up line.
In case you’re not familiar with this colorful term, it describes the act of getting a blowjob while you’re taking a dump. How the name came about, though, I have no idea. It’s possible that the word is a combination of “blow” and “dump,” but then why the “-kin” suffix? It almost lends a whimsical quality to the word, as if it should describe a kids’ toy or a baked good instead of a lewd sex act. It seems (to their credit) the signing community isn’t as fascinated with this time-honored tradition as us hearing folk are, as there’s not an equivalent slang term in ASL. Instead, one has to explain the concept of what a blumpkin is, which is still pretty exciting.
Pants parties are always fun. When you’d like to let a special person know that he or she is invited to the fiesta down under, I think this line is great at getting the point across. Besides, who doesn’t like appreciate an invitation to a party? One of the best things about pants parties is that they frequently lead to no-pants parties. I think that’s when the real fun starts to happen. Inviting people to the party in your pants is just as exciting in American Sign Language. It’s also nice and direct, which makes it easy to remember. You establish that your pants are having a party right now, and then let the person know that they’re welcome to join.