In sign language, finger spelling a persons name can be
tedious (one sign for each letter), so in some
Deaf cultures, people who sign
usually have a deaf name. This name is usually one or two
signs, and it has some relation to the person.
Sometimes the first letter of
a persons real name is used if the person doesn't have a
deaf name, or deaf names are not used in that
The deaf name is never given to oneself, usually a persons'
friends bestow the name on you. This name will also change
after time, since if your name is "far" (or rather, the sign
for "far") because you live far away, it will no longer be
appropriate when you move closer to your friends.
Some deaf names are a sign that sounds like, or is similar
to, the persons real name. For example, my original deaf
tutors' name was Angela, and her deaf name was the sign "Angel".
Or someone named "Penny" may have a deaf name that is the sign
"Money". (It is actually a play on the James Bond character
For the record, my deaf name is, and probably will always
1. Thx to liveforever for
reminding me of that one.
Please note, I base this on my experience with
the deaf culture, and I am reasonably sure that this extends
to other forms of sign language other than ones based on
British Sign Language (BSL). However, I only speak
New Zealand Sign Language, so if someone knows that
deaf names are not used in a certain culture, please let
me know, and I will correct it here.