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Pair up the following ten words:

  • Arabic
  • french fries
  • gray
  • monthly
  • ninety-nine
  • paying
  • rent
  • smooth
  • whatever
  • yellow

Hint, added later:

Knowledge of a specific non-English language will prove helpful.

Another hint, added even later:

Knowledge of a specific non-English language will prove helpful. But that language is native to an area of the world in which English is the primary language.

Another hint, added even later:

Knowledge of a specific non-English language will prove helpful. But that language is native to an area of the world in which English is the primary language, though it's descendant from a language that's native to an area of the world in which French is the primary language.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean language with "non-Latin script" by saying "non-English" language? $\endgroup$ May 8 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnBrookfields , no. $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    May 9 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "native"? Like "primarily used by original inhabitants"? $\endgroup$
    – iBug
    May 10 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ @iBug the language is originally from there $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    May 10 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ @msh210 which existing answer do you want to reward? :) $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jun 2 at 19:24
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+200
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After looking at this for a long time (and 'looking' is the key word here!) I think the words should be paired up as follows:

Arabic + yellow
french fries + ninety-nine
gray + whatever
monthly + rent
paying + smooth

Because:

in American Sign Language, the signs for these paired items are very similar!

Note re the Hints: ASL, here, is a 'non-English' language native to the USA (where English is the primary language). However, it is descendant in part from Old French Sign Language, which is (of course) native to French-speaking countries of the world :)

While I am not au fait with the general terminology surrounding this language, here is an attempt to describe the pairings in an understandable way...

Yellow is signed by making a fist with your thumb and little finger extended (ASL for 'Y') and rotating the hand back and forth. I have been unable to find a video for 'Arabic' online, but did manage to find this discussion on Reddit where a user conveniently describes signing this word as "very much like 'yellow' but with a much tighter shake"!

French fries is signed by forming a circle with your thumb and forefinger and dipping it twice, which is very similar to the sign for ninety-nine.

Gray is signed by wafting your stretched out hands past each other, palms towards your chest, in a similar fashion to the sign for whatever.

Monthly is signed by stroking one forefinger down the other twice. This is an identical motion to that for rent.

There appear to be several ways to sign Paying online, but some of them are very similar to one of the (again) many signs for smooth, involving sliding your hands forward while passing the thumb and a finger over each other.

This solution also makes sense of the title - after all:

ASL is all about seeing the words!

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    $\begingroup$ Correct! Well done. (And the title was a reference to the song lyric "I saw the sign" and the common question "what's your sign". Probably too oblique.) $\endgroup$
    – msh210
    Aug 5 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ Ah should have got this one!! Very nice job $\endgroup$
    – Elpharya
    Aug 9 at 2:34

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