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How To Learn Sign Language

Sign Language Basics : Sign Language: Names

One part of deaf culture is that everyone
has their own sign name.
If you’re trying to call a person by name, you don’t want to have finger spell their
name every time. So one way to resolve that is to assign an identifying sign name. My
sign name signifies my curly hair. Obviously, I do have curly hair. It could be a personality
trait. It could be something that you like to do. Something that identifies you. Some
other sign names might be an initial on your chin. Sometimes they don’t actually have any
sort of meaning at all. Now, it’s not appropriate for you to create your own sign name. A deaf
person would have to assign you that name. My deaf friends assigned me my sign name.
So, it’s important to keep that in mind. Maybe, if you’re out there socializing with deaf
people, someone might identify you with a particular characteristic in assigning your
name. That would be great.

40 Replies to “Sign Language Basics : Sign Language: Names”

  • how would they know anything about my character if they just met me?

    I'l just scream spell my name out..

    BEVON… easy….
    or they can cal me pimp juice…. what ever fits him/her

  • If/When I get a sign name do I introduce myself with that sign name to other people or do I continue to use my finger spelled name?

  • @KaleidoKat When a person gives you the name, you keep it and that's how you introduce yourself to everyone. Hope that answered your question!

  • I don't know anyone who is deaf or mute, but it's nice to know that if I do they won't have to spell out my 9 letter name anytime they try to address me. That would suck..

  • My friend and I aren't deaf, but we're learning sign language together. Is it okay if we assigned each other names (until we meet a deaf person)?

  • what if you hate your sign name? can you ask ur friend to change it? and what if you dont know a deaf person? can a hearing friend give you the sign name?? PLEASE ANSWER 😛 thx (:

  • @expertvillage can you PLEASE tell me how to sign my name PLEASE becuase I never meet 'hard of hearing people' my name is Preston .

  • All of my friends had to wait until they met me to get their sign names. Most of them are personality given names. (For example, one of my friends, Siera always has something to say, so her sign name is the letter s with the idea sign.) A lot of the sign names aren't that creative, because I don't know a lot of signs yet, but a lot of times we'll just look up a word to figure it out.

  • Good point! But in Switched at Birth, I think it was Emmett that gave Bay her signing name, and she continued using that sign when she was introduced to other deaf people, so I guess, at least according to Switched at Birth, to the sign name that the first deaf person assigned to you.

  • I want a sign name!
    I don't know any deaf people, but I'm learning sign language & want to teach my son (who's currently 3.5 months but we're learning together 🙂
    My real name is Cinnamon (yes my real name) I don't want want to spell it out everytime. 🙁 its so looooong

  • I don't know any deaf people but I don't wanna spell me name out ( My name is Zoie) I know my name is short but it takes time can you sign my name ?

  • What if your learning sign language and you don't know any deaf people but you don't want to spell it and a friend gives it to you

  • l am learning asl and I don't know how to sign my name and I don't know anyone who is deaf so could you please make a sign for my name please my name is Karsyn

  • I know it's a traditional practice that people probably don't think much about but I don't really agree with "hearing people can't give anyone a name sign" rule. It seems a little segregated and can be problematic for a lot of people or are just learning to sign. I think anyone should be able to give themselves, or a family member or friend, a name sign if they'd like to. That's seems preferable for something that personal. I do think it's a good idea to run the name by a fluent signer, if possible, to see if it's usable.

  • But it's not like people without hearing problems make up names for deaf people. What makes them any different?

  • I'm not Deaf, but my mom is an ASL interpreter, and her Deaf friends gave everyone in my family sign names. My mom, Ginger, is a letter G held at the forehead, then pushed forward (based on the sign for 'teacher' – she used to teach high school). My dad, Bill, is the same as my mom, but with a B. That's because he's associated with my mom. My brother, Lars, is also the same, but it starts as an L and ends as an S. Mine, on the other hand, is completely different. It's an M (for Melody) touching my cheek twice, because of my dimples.

  • For those of you wondering how to introduce yourself in ASL:
    If you don't already have a sign name, just sign MY NAME (spell your name).
    If you DO have a sign name, then you sign MY NAME (spell your name, then do your sign name).
    For example, I would sign MY NAME M-E-L-O-D-Y (letter M touches cheek twice).

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