Y in sign language

The manual alphabets are used for fingerspelling spoken or written words of a spoken language, people's names, titles, brand names, etc. Or, sometimes fingerspelling is used to specify a word of a spoken/written language even if there is a signed word for it.

Signed languages are not a universal language; they are independent from spoken languages. Provided with the right education, most Deaf people as well as deaf children are bilingual from early age.

Letter Y in ASL alphabet

How do you say the letter "Y" in American Sign Language?

Definition: The 25th letter of the English alphabet and American manual alphabet, a consonant.

Pronunciation (sign description): Dominant "Y" hand held in space with the palm facing outward. The "Y" handshape consists of the thumb and the pinkie extended while the three fingers are folded on the palm.

Fingerspelling Y

In cursive fingerspelling, the letter Y tends to be firm in its position, thus affecting the other letters before and after it (co-articulation).

For the double letters of Y, use the bounce. Maybe sideways, in some cases. For the standalone "YY", bounce only.

Kids signing Y

Unlike the "1" handshape, the thumb and the pinkie are difficult to manipulate in the early language acquisition in a signed language.

For example, in my documentation of bilingual ASL-speaking Juli's language development from birth, the toddler formed the handshape Y at ease in ASL words YELLOW at age 2;8 and later in STAY and NOW. A month later, she formed the letter "I" completely at age 2;9 as in DRAWING.

Children develop at different pace. It's possible that the handshape Y precedes I or vice versa, since both are very close in the timeline and they share a similar characteristics of handshape with a similar requirement of control (proximalization).

At a preschool age, ASL-speaking preschoolers may be able to fingerspell the whole alphabet with correct handshapes for all letters of the alphabet.

Handshape Y activity game

List as many ASL words that start with the handshape Y as you can before you take a peer some possible words below. It doesn't matter if ASL signs are one-handed or two-handed as long as the Y handshape is on the dominant hand.



Other manual alphabets

Here shows the letter Y in British manual alphabet which is part of British Sign Language (BSL) -- the language of Deaf people in the U.K., Australian Sign Language (Auslan) of the Deaf people in Australia, and New Zealand (NZSL) in New Zealand.

Letter Y in BSL
Letter Y in BSL

In the two-handed BSL alphabet for the Y letter, the top of the dominant "1" handshape with the palm facing left (if right-handed) rests on the back of the non-dominant flat hand between the forefinger and thumb. The dominant forefinger brushes downward the backside of the non-dominant hand.

French Sign Language (LSF) in France and ASL share the similar manual alphabet, but these sign languages are very different languages, even though Old ASL was the descendant of Old LSF.

Related links

Previous letter: X and next letter Z.


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 Y

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

Feeling lucky? Random word

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.

Screenshot of dictionary search with notes
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).

Videos: The first video may be NOT the answer you're looking for. There are several signs for different meanings, contexts, and/or variations. Browsing all the way down to the next search box is highly recommended.

Video speed: Signing too fast in the videos? See HELP in the footer.

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.