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American Sign Language:  "name"

Video of "NAME"

Handshape:  "H" handshape on both hands.
Movement:  Tends to be a double movement (but a single movement is also common).
Non-Manual Marker: In general this uses a neutral facial expression.  In the sentence "What is your name?"  signed as NAME YOU? (Wh-question expression) you furrow the eyebrows and tilt the head forward a bit.

Inflections:  NAMED (verb)  (When he was a puppy I named my dog Fido)  [Note:  For the verb version of this sign, I use a single movement.]

Sample usage:  "What is your name?"
In the example below note my facial expression.  The furrowed eyebrows, the tilt of my head, and the location of my hands all turn this one sign into a whole sentence: "What is your name?"  You don't need any additional signs to express this meaning.   This is often signed as "NAME YOU?" Or "YOUR NAME?"

name1.jpg (7089 bytes)name2.jpg (6992 bytes)name3.jpg (7052 bytes)name4.jpg (6998 bytes)

back.gif (1674 bytes)

Optional Reading (Not needed for class)

A student writes:  I've been watching through your videos and reading at your website.  I'm trying to learn my best about everything ASL!  I've seen you do the sign for "NAME" using a double tap.  I've also seen you sign NAME only tapped once.  Is there a reason for this?

In general usage in everyday life with strong context the meaning of the sing NAME is almost always clear to the viewer regardless of one tap or two -- so doing a double movement (or not) isn't something to worry about -- however, here are some notes:

NAME can function as a noun / verb pair.

In general, signs that function as noun / verb pairs use a double movement for the noun and a single movement for the verb.

NAME can use a slightly extended single movement (single contact) to function as a verb. (For example: named, called, call, mention, christen, etc.)

NAME can use a double contact to function as a noun.

However, it is also true that in context the sign NAME can function as a noun even if it only uses a single movement.

The  question "NAME YOU?" as in "What is your name?" (using furrowed eyebrows) often only uses a single movement for NAME.  The question is understandable because it doesn't matter if NAME functions as a noun or a verb here. If you use a single movement to create a verb you are asking the technical equivalent of: "What are you named?" or "What are you called?"  -- which is understood by your conversation partner as you wanting to know their name. (And is typically interpreted as: "What's your name?")

If for some reason it is important (such as teaching an English class via ASL in a Deaf classroom, you could use the single movement for verb concepts such as "named / called / christened" and could contrast those concepts with "name" by using a double movement to specify "name" as a noun.

Again though -- in typical everyday usage -- it just doesn't matter -- which is why you will see many skilled signers drop the second contact when signing the noun of a noun verb pair at high speed. (An example of that is how CHAIR is often done with a single movement).

Let's avoid the idea that there is one right way to sign things.  Sure, there are ways to sign things that are so odd as to be considered wrong -- but that isn't my point. My point is to expect to see variation in the Deaf Community.

The question "What is your name?" -- is commonly done several different ways:

1. YOU NAME-(what - single contact)?  (Look at the person, point at the person, furrow your eyebrows, sign NAME using a single contact)

2. NAME-(what - single contact) YOU? (Look at the person, furrow your eyebrows, sign NAME using a single contact, point at the person)

3. NAME-(what - double contact)?  (Look at the person, furrow your eyebrows, sign NAME using a double contact)

4. YOU NAME WHAT? (Look at the person, point at the person, sign NAME using a single contact, furrow your eyebrows, sign WHAT-(loose hands version))

And so forth.

What I wish would happen:
Teacher: YOU NAME-(what)?
Student: J-O-H-N S-M-I-T-H.

What happens all too often:
Teacher: YOU NAME-(what)?
Student: MY NAME J-O-H-N S-M-I-T-H.

After teaching ASL for 30 years over 1,000 minutes of my life have been wasted watching students needlessly sign "MY NAME."

Math: (3.333R seconds) (3 x per semester) (100 students) (2 semesters per year) (30 years)
= approximately 60,000 seconds
= 1,000 minutes



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