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Opinions on the best sign for PIZZA are as varied as opinions on who makes the best pizza in town and what toppings are the most delicious.  The fact is there are several popular variations for this sign.  Depending on where you live, a particular variation may be more popular than other variations.  If someone doesn't like your variation, do what I do...throw some pizza crust at him or her.  Um...wait, what I meant to say was, ask what variation they use.  After a while you will get a feel for what works in your area.

Variation 1:

Here is a highly recognizable sign that is easy to remember. 
You use a "P" handshape to draw a "Z" in the air.
The tip of the index finger is pointing toward the person to whom you are signing.  (In most sign language dictionaries, unless it says or shows otherwise, you can assume the sign points toward the listener.)

Note:  Some people might consider this to be an "English-like sign."   Some people don't even like pizza either. 
No, really, I'm serious. Stop laughing!  It's true!

Variation 2:

Here is a variation that I don't care for but find myself having to teach because many of my colleagues in this area of the world use it. 
The sign looks as if you are shoving a piece of pizza in your mouth.  (Use a repeated movement).
I don't like it because it is a very awkward sign to produce, but many people in my area are adamant that it is the "right" sign to use.

Let's get a side view on that so you can see the handshape better. Remember, use a repeated movement.

Variation 3:
Another way to sign pizza (that seems to be becoming more and more popular)  is to use the "double z" + "a" method.  Make a bent "v" handshape and then draw a "double z" in the air and end with an "a" handshape. Like spelling "zza."   My wife prefers this sign:

Here are the starting and ending handshapes:

Let's take a close look at that "double z" movement so you can see the details.  Remember to end with an "A"

Variation 4

This is how I personally sign "pizza"
Spell out the word p-i-z-z-a very quickly.  For the two "z" letters you do a "double-z" movement that uses a "v" (or bent "v") handshape and trace a "z" in the air. I do it really fast and it takes about one-half of a second (or less) for whole sign.

Or you can just stick with the initialized version that I showed you at the top of the page and draw a "Z" in the air using a "P" handshape.

Variation 5:

In a message dated 7/28/2003 2:07:34 PM Central Daylight Time, writes:

Dr. Vicars,
Around 1986, in Oregon, I first learned the sign for pizza as:

Red + CL "large round flat surface" (2H, L bent).

My teacher was Anna Rinaldi, a Deaf woman.
I believe she was from the eastern part of the U.S.
Perhaps this is an old sign? Lynne Murphy

Hi Lynne,
I just looked in some of my older sign language dictionaries and would you believe the sign for pizza isn't even listed?! So it is understandable that instructors would use a wide variety of combinations of signs and classifiers to express the concept.
These many people just use the "bent-v" moving in a "z" path version of the sign for "pizza."

Variation 6:

In a message dated 10/28/2005 3:58:30 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Dr. Vicars (Bill)

I recently began teaching ASL I & II at the high school level. I began learning sign some time ago (late 70s, early 80s). I took my classes at Santa Ana College under Herb Terreri (recently retired after around 30 years...)

Anyways, when I learned the sign for "pizza" I learned it as open-5 w/ crooked fingers, palm up, touching the heal of the hand to the side of the chin (like you're eating a piece of pizza). (*)

My second level students learned the "double z" way [incorrectly] which I'd never seen (been out of touch for a bit, learning Spanish). My point is, when they sign it, the sign looks like the sign for "snake", not the way you demonstrate it (side-to-side).

I've also seen the initialized "P" triangled in the palm of the non-dominant hand.

I was just curious if you'd ever seen the way I learned pizza (*)?

Thank you for your time!
Cynthia Kaniski (name sign..."C" like "twin")

Hello Cynthia,
 Is this what you are describing?

I haven't seen the method you describe. Well, I maybe, sort of, in the back of my brain remember seeing it once.  But for a second opinion I asked my wife, Belinda, and she hasn't seen it either. (That doesn't mean it isn't a cool sign, it just means it just isn't in much circulation.) 
I had a hard time getting my wrist to bend like that and I reckon others might have the same problem.

Up here in Sacramento a related version that seems quite popular is to use a modified-bent "b" palm up near the mouth as if representing a slice of pizza.  The "b" is actually upside down, with the fingers pointing toward your mouth. To make it work you have to turn your wrist at a bit of a weird angle, thus the sign is somewhat awkward. I'll see if I can do a picture of it and post it within a day or two to my "pizza" page.
I know what you mean about students "mis-learning" the double-z version of the sign.  I'm going to get rid of that variation from my web page and go with a "zza" version that my wife likes.  Like you, I noticed a few students were signing "snake" instead of pizza. That simply won't do.

Wow! That looked great! The picture you showed asking if that's what I meant was exact! It may be an old sign, my twin sister signs it the same way. We started learning sign ages ago, and took college level sign classes in the mid-late 80's.
Thanks so much for your help! I'm keeping your email close by.


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All material copyright 1996 by Dr. William Vicars