J in sign language

There are different sign language alphabets around the world, so are the alphabetical/symbolic letters or characters of spoken languages throughout the world.

In signed languages, different manual alphabets in different countries or languages are used to fingerspell a spoken or written word of a spoken language where there is no sign or to transliterate a spoken/written word, such as personal names, names of places, brand names, foreign spoken words, etc.

J letter in ASL alphabet

How do you say letter J in American Sign Language (ASL)? The handshape for the letter "J" is the same as the letter "I", except for the movement.

Definition: The tenth letter of the English alphabet and American manual alphabet, a consonant.

Pronunciation (sign description): With the dominant fist hand (in this case, right-handed), the pinkie is upright and the palm faces outward/left (no frozen rule). The upright pinky finger moves downward and then left in a curvy motion. Imagine the shape of "J of the motion.


In co-articulation which means how one unit (sound in spoken language or prime in sign language) of a language affects the previous and next letter or structure of a word/sign, the letter J in fingerspelling can be a strong effect on the units around it.

For example, in the fingerspelled name "John", the first letter J influences the orientation of the letter O which shows a different orientation in the frozen manual alphabet chart. That's different in real life fingerspelling.

When fingerspelling a double J, how to do fingerspell a word with the double letters? It's very rare as there is barely a word with the double J in English. Suppose there is, just for an example. For the word "hajj", repeat the letter J -- H-A-J-J. No sideways.

For beginners, don't bounce each letter when fingerspelling.

Baby signing J

The handshape I/J is one of a large number of marked handshapes, which means that unlike marked handshapes, unmarked handshapes are natural in sign language.

In language development (phonological acquisition in particular), the handshape I/J in ASL-speaking toddlers doesn't emerge in ASL words with the handshape I until later, somewhere in the late phase of the whole handshape chart which contains over 50+ handshapes found in ASL, just like there are about 40-44 phonemes in English spoken language (vs 26 alphabetical letters in written English).

In the case study of baby Juli in my documentation, the I handshape emerged at age 2;9 without the support of handshape T. Prior to the full-formed "I", she used the handshape T to help form I; that is a combination of T and I. At that time, she was able to form "I" as in the ASL word "drawing". In the ASL word "JUICE", she used the handshape error of "1" (forefinger) for signing JUICE until later than age 2;1. At age 2;1, the correct movement emerged but the handshape error remained until possibly age 2;9 when the "I" handshape emerged.

By age 3.5 to 4 or so, ASL-speaking children may be able to form each handshape of the whole alphabet. Children develop at different pace with different strategies. But, in general, milestones are consistent.

Other manual alphabets

The two-handed British manual alphabet is used in British Sign Language (BSL) by Deaf people in the U.K., Australian Sign Language (Auslan) in Australia, and New Zealand (NZSL) in New Zealand.

Letter J in BSL
Letter J in BSL

As Old ASL in North America was descended from Old French Sign Language (Old LSF) in France, both modern ASL and LSF share the similar manual alphabet; though, these sign languages are very different today.

Related words

Previous letter: I and next letter K.


Written ASL

[Note: ASL writing is not an official standard. This sign language writing remains in a state of open space to allow room for experiment, evolution, and improvement.]

How to write ASL for letter J

Written ASL digit for the alphabetical letter J. [Contributed by ASLwrite, 2019]

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Basic word starters: hello / learn / ASL / sign language / alphabet / love / I love you / please / thank you / welcome...

Search Tips and Pointers

Search/Filter: Enter a keyword in the filter/search box to see a list of available words with the "All" selection. Click on the page number if needed. Click on the blue link to look up the word. For best result, enter a partial word to see variations of the word.

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Screenshot of the search dictionary

Alphabetical letters: It's useful for 1) a single-letter word (such as A, B, etc.) and 2) very short words (e.g. "to", "he", etc.) to narrow down the words and pages in the list.

For best result, enter a short word in the search box, then select the alphetical letter (and page number if needed), and click on the blue link.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
Screenshot of the search dictionary

Don't forget to click "All" back when you search another word with a different initial letter.

If you cannot find (perhaps overlook) a word but you can still see a list of links, then keep looking until the links disappear! Sharpening your eye or maybe refine your alphabetical index skill. :)

Add a Word: This dictionary is not exhaustive; ASL signs are constantly added to the dictionary. If you don't find a word/sign, you can send your request (only if a single link doesn't show in the result).

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ASL has its own grammar and structure in sentences that works differently from English. For plurals, verb inflections, word order, etc., learn grammar in the "ASL Learn" section. For search in the dictionary, use the present-time verbs and base words. If you look for "said", look up the word "say". Likewise, if you look for an adjective word, try the noun or vice versa. E.g. The ASL signs for French and France are the same. If you look for a plural word, use a singular word.