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Deaf Culture: "Name Signs" 
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Dr. L. writes:
Hello Dr. Vicars,
I'm an obstetrician and have recently had a deaf-mute patient. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to pick up basic fingerspelling and conversation from your website and videos!
I was talking to my patient the day after she delivered, and I asked the baby's name. I had been wondering all night when deaf parents give the baby a namesign, and I asked her, "what is the baby's namesign?"
She shrugged and looked at the dad in a kind of what-do-you-think way. He tentatively suggested the first initial, signed across the eyebrow. She nodded, turned to me, and said it was first-initial-across-the-eyebrow. I have some questions:
1. Did I make a faux pas by asking? I was very surprised when they came up with one in front of me.
2. I've read that some namesigns are referencing something, like signing an adjective with the first initial of the name. Anything come to mind for across the eyebrow?
Thank you for making it so easy to pick up basic ASL!
- Dr. L.
You did not make a faux pas.
The parents might change their mind later. The child might grow up and end up with a new name sign. (No different from a hearing child being called "Billy" and growing up to be called "Bill" -- all the while having an official name of William.)
Chances are the "initial across the eyebrow" name sign was simply an "arbitrary" sign with no "meaning" attached.
Or maybe the dad thought she had pretty eyes or bushy eyebrows.
p.s. A fellow in the Deaf Community is named "Wing."
I'm paraphrasing this, but the story goes something along the line of his Deaf parents were asked in the hospital "What is his name?" One of them voiced, "Angel" -- but the doctor couldn't figure out what was being said. So they signed ANGEL. Whereupon the doctor wrote down: "Wing"
[Which ended up being the coolest name ever -- while also functioning as a summary of "the Deaf experience."]
* "Wing Butler" (Sign Language Interpreter, Entrepreneurial Problem Solver, Motivational Team Builder, ... etc.)
p.s. A few name sign articles:
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