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If someone came up to you and introduced themselves like this: "Hello! Perhaps you'd wonder what 'secretive' might be keeping from you. But the beauty of a sign name - one swift gesture made with your hands - is that it's over as quickly, if not quicker, than you could say it.In deaf life, people like Secretive aren't strange at all. My name is a combination of 'take photo' and the letter 'C' for Charlie. As opposed to taking a lot longer, S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G a name out L-E-T-T-E-R, by boring, impersonal, L-E-T-T-E-R.
Sign names are a weird and wonderful thing, where your average hearing names like Matt, Jack or Jane look positively plain. Women would probably call themselves Lip Gloss, Model or Soft Hair. It's thought up after an intense period of observation, when people have worked out firstly whether they like you enough to give you one (a sign name, that is), and they've taken all your habits and mannerisms into account to find a name that best sums you up. Well, if you started hanging out with sign language users you will soon find they change it for you ... Charlie Swinbourne explains the secret world of 'sign names'. Angela, Sign Name: Angel I'm Angela and my sign name is 'Angel.' Why 'Angel'? It was given to me so long ago I can't remember - maybe ten years ago! Derek, Sign Name: Earrings I'm Derek, and my sign name is 'Earrings.' Because I used to have loads of rings in my ear.Joe, Sign Name: Hand-Rubber Hi - my name is Joe Collins, but my name is signed as 'hand-rubber.' A lot of people noticed, when I get excited about something, I rub my hands. The rings came off, but I'm still called 'Earrings.' Derek, Sign Name: Earrings I'm Derek, and my sign name is 'Earrings.' Because I used to have loads of rings in my ear.The rings came off, but I'm still called 'Earrings.' Billy, Sign Name: Piano player I'm Billy - my sign name is 'Piano player'. I'm still called the piano man - I can't get rid of it!Julian, Sign Name: Waffle I'm Julian, and my sign name means 'Waffle'.But before you get too excited about the possibility of throwing your dull, former identity away, let me point something out: you don't get to choose your sign name. I'm generalising, and stereotyping, but you get my point. Your typical sign name is usually drawn from one of four areas: Firstly, it could come from an aspect of your personality, such as talking all the time like my mate Waffle, or Hand-rubber for someone who rubs their hands a lot when they get excited.
Secondly, it could be something to do with your appearance, like wearing a lot of earrings or jewellery, what kind of hair you have, or make-up.
Thirdly it could be a play on your name, like Angel for someone called 'Angela', or if your surname is Burder ...
Because my friends noticed I always talk and waffle on. Sasha, Sign Name: Chopstick-in-hair My name's Sasha and I have a few sign names.
So it became a combination of the letter 'J' and waffle. David, Sign Name: Sand I'm David Sands - my sign name is 'Sand.' It began at school because my surname is 'Sands'. First, when with friends I sometimes spill my drinks.
So now they've given me the sign name 'Splasher.' But I also have a formal sign name.
Which is 'chopstick-in-hair' because my hair is so long. You would probably assume you'd misheard them or that they were behaving strangely. If someone doesn't have a sign name, the alternative is to fingerspell it.