bsl name

How to sign “My name is” in sign language (BSL)

Learning to sign ‘my name is’ in sign language (BSL) is a quick and easy activity that anyone can do. It’s also one of the most important phrases you learn because we all need to introduce ourselves when meeting others for the first time.

Learning how to introduce yourself is an easy way to put yourself at ease at the start of a conversation in BSL. It tells the deaf person that you know some BSL so puts them at ease too.

Knowing how to sign your introduction is not the the only BSL you need to learn, you also need to know how to fingerspell so you can spell out your name. Of course, you also need to ask people to introduce themselves too!

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How to say my name is..

The video below shows you how to sign ‘my name is’ in BSL. You can view other videos for ,my name is’ on Sign BSL.

You create the sign for ‘name’ by putting the tips of your index and middle fingers on your forehead. Then twist your hand forward at the wrist until your fingers are pointing straight ahead in front of you.

Signing ‘me’ is done by pointing to yourself. To sign ‘what?’, you wave your index finger side to side in front of you. Your body language needs to show you are asking a question. You do this by furrowing your eye brows so it looks like you are frowning whilst mouthing ‘what?’

You need to put all these signs together to form a sentence in BSL, so you sign ‘name – me – what?’ Some signers just do ‘name – me’ or ‘name-what?’ (because the ‘me’ is already assumed).

After you signed ‘my name is’ in BSL, you then need to spell out the letters of your name. If you need tips on how to fingerspell, you can check out our post on improving your fingerspelling.

*It is important to remember that BSL involves hand gestures and facial expressions to sign correctly. *

Access BSL

And don’t forget other basic phrases like good morning, good afternoon and are you ok. Additional phrases in sign language like ‘sorry‘, and ‘again please‘ are really useful when you meet a deaf person for the first time and you are trying to understand their fingerspelling.

What’s your name in sign language

To ask someone the question ‘what’s your name?’ in BSL, you would use the same phrasing but point to the person you are asking. The video below shows what the signed sentence looks like:

Learners are often reluctant to point as hearing people are told from a young age that it is rude to point. The signer in the video uses the following signs: name – you – what?

It is important to note that questions usually come at the end of a sentence. This is because sign language has what is known as a topic-comment structure and is grammatically different to English.

Something that every website fails to tell you is that if you ask someone their name, they will reply by fingerspelling! This is why regulated BSL courses teach the BSL alphabet AND help you practise how to reply. You need to be able to understand when someone signs back to you, (this is what we call ‘receptive skills‘ when learning BSL).

Native signers are quick when they fingerspell so you may not catch all the letters when someone responds. A BSL tutor will teach you how to respond correctly so the deaf person you communicate with knows you are a beginner.

You may find that when a person gives you their name, they may sign something that doesn’t look anything like letters of the alphabet. You can ask the person who is signing to fingerspell their name again by signing ‘again please‘. It is important to always ask for clarification if you don’t understand. You will learn BSL much quicker if you have the confidence to ask about signs you don’t understand.

What is a Name sign?

Deaf Communities have a unique naming system for people who are considered to be part of community. Sometimes a deaf community will decide a person’s ‘name sign’ or sign name which the hearing world might consider to be like a nickname. For example, a person who is called Taylor, might be referred to as the sign for a ‘tailor’ (the sign for sewing). This is more friendly than fingerspelling T-A-Y-L-O-R.

A sign name usually represents some permanent feature of a person. The features can include things like glasses or curly hair or they can just be a person’s initials e.g. instead of fingerspelling Bob Smith, a deaf person might just fingerspell B then S while mouthing ‘Bob Smith’.

Sign names or BSL names are a fundamental part of deaf culture. If a hearing person who has learned British Sign Language is given a sign name, then it is an indication that the local community considers you part of the community.

Can you give yourself a name sign?

You might think it is a good idea to give yourself a sign name in BSL and encourage people to use it rather than fingerspell your name. This is not advised as these type of signs are a gift given to you by the Deaf community rather than something you decide yourself. As you become part of a community, you can always ask native sign language users what sign name they would give you. Name signs are part of ‘Deaf Culture‘ so it is always best to wait until someone gives you one.

There are also risks with giving yourself a sign e.g. someone in the community may already have that sign, or worse, you might give yourself a sign that is rude or offensive in some way.

Connect with more people using BSL

Basic introductions are useful for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you are hearing, have hearing loss or you are profoundly deaf and don’t use sign, learning basic greetings will help you to connect to more people. It can also be a great way of becoming friends with new people e.g. if you have a deaf colleague at work or a deaf friend at school

Would you like to learn more sign language? You can learn about other BSL signs by viewing our post on essential BSL greetings.

Other BSL greetings resources:

You can find paper-based resources at Twinkl