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The sign FRESHMAN: You may think it's odd that the sign FRESHMAN is indicated by tapping the ring finger instead of the pinky. This has its origins at Gallaudet University. Historically, students had to complete a preliminary year between high school and college before actually entering the university. Thus the preliminary year was indicated by tapping the pinky, and the next year, the freshman year, by tapping the ring finger. The other sign for FRESHMAN (in which the R-hand brushes across the tip of the nose) is incidentally the same as the sign for RAT. Then again, maybe it's not coincidental that upperclassmen compared freshmen to rats. This is an interesting example in which an ASL sign (RAT) has taken on a meaning that is not generally asssociated with the corresponding English word.