Beginner I

Introducing oneself in sign language

Introducing one another

Learn how to introduce yourself or introduce one to another in American Deaf culture and how to fingerspell personal names for ASL beginners in American manual alphabet.

Introducing one's name

There are different versions of introducing your name. The most common phrase is:

Gloss: HELLO, IX-me NAME [fingerspelling a name]

This phrase is a common phrase in a formal register. In casual or informal setting, one may simply sign IX-me [fingerspelling one's name], omitting the NAME. In English equivalent, it's "I'm [name]."

Gloss: i/me name [fs]jolanta[fs]
English translation: I am Jolanta.

Sign this way instead.

Gloss: my name [fs]jolanta[fs]
English translation: My name is Jolanta.

Notice the different handshape? It's a possessive pronoun in this sentence, "MY NAME..." (in this, NAME is a noun) whereas the other sentence is "IX-me NAME...".

Often ASL students may use this MY NAME version somehow unconsciously. Deaf people typically use the other version.

Name signs

Deaf people or members of Deaf community also have their name signs that they may include their name signs when they introduce or are introduced to other signers, depending on the contexts.

Some Deaf people consciously introduce their name signs first before their names that appear on their birth certificates. Or, sometimes vice versa that it doesn't matter.

Fingerspelling a full name

In some cases such as formal settings, when introducing, one fingerspells a full name.

How does one indicate a space between two names, between Ms/Mr and a surname or between two words in general when fingerspelling? Spell with a slight pause and slight nod between the forename and surname or other two things. In reality, it's very subtle that one has to be sensitive to the rhythm or intonation.

Gloss: fs-Ms fs-Lapiak
English translation: Ms. Lapiak.

Learner tip: Do not fingerspell a first name then sign "LAST NAME" then fingerspell the surname. One may use this way occasionally in some contexts (E.g. a legal situation for clarification or emphasis). But, it's not recommended in general or everyday interactions.

Asking what one's name is

There are several ways of expressing this sentence in ASL, such as what you name?, you name what?, you name, you? and a few variants. In all these wh-questions, the burrowed eyebrows and the slightly forwarded head indicate a wh-question mark.

Gloss: you name what?
English translation: What is your name?

Another variant sometimes omitting WHAT: YOU NAME, YOU? with burrowed eyebrows in less formal register.

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