My first name is Joey last name Baer.

This vlog discusses why some Deaf people signed “first name” before their first name then “last name” before last name. How did this start and what is the appropriate way to sign our names without saying “first name” and “last name”?


  • Suzy 16 years ago

    Are you sure you aren’t a bit on the comical side?

    Anyway–your crystal teachings really are priceless…keep vlogging all those cultural bloopers and laugh some more.

    Life is precious,
    Humor is the balm
    that soothes the soul!

    Regards~ Suzy

  • Mishkazena 16 years ago

    Growing up, I didn’t do that while introducing myself to hearing people. But I learned to use that method with Deaf people after I joined the Deaf Community.

    I would be curious to hear how that got started in the first place, too.

  • Don Creech 16 years ago

    How true! This has to stop and stay in ASL signs of our full name without saying “first” and “last”. Good discuss on this vlog! Kudos!

  • Someone 16 years ago

    Yes I agree with you Joey. I do notice the deaf people have been using that way of introducing themselves by saying first name … last name…. when you really can say your full name at once without saying first name and last name. Do they get it from deaf school? Repeated asking them what s ur first name? Last name? prompt them to say them that way? We sure need to teach them to say just full name without these saying first and last name in ASL.

    Smile… Have a great day!

  • Noni 16 years ago

    hi Joey,
    Yeah I’ve been wondering about that for a while. i usually just give my name, not need to say ‘first name’ ‘last name’ but not sure what is really right. your explanations clarified it! thanks.

    I agree about the pause.

  • Cobra 16 years ago


  • Nancy Rarus 16 years ago

    Joey, I will view this log but wanted to type what i have done over the years as an educator without being influenced by what you have to say. I promise I will comment on the vlog.
    My suspicions on how this started was when fingerspelling names, people could not separate the first from last too well. So they would ask to repeat.
    I always wrote on the board or on paper using the person’s name: “my name first XYZ last name ABC”
    and asked the person if s/he would write it that way. Always got sheepish looks.
    Now…onward to your vlog.

  • Nancy Rarus 16 years ago

    As promised, I viewed your vlog. Bravo!!!! should send this to all the known schools for the deaf principals!!!

  • Judge 16 years ago


  • The One and Only Ridor 16 years ago

    I suspect it is because the deaf children were conditioned to do that when they were immersed in classes where their teachers are hearing.

    I always made it clear to them that their name is …. (with pause) …. ! I always tell them that pause is the most critical to the clear-crystal understanding of words for everyone’s name.

    This is old stuff that has been going on in our community but we must go out and correct them and educate ’em that they do not have to do what you just described.


  • Deaf Pixie 16 years ago


    I often spelling my full name and who I am .. If I have a job interview. I let them know I dont use my husband last name. I am using the maiden with a explainations.

    Don’t need to say my name is Margaret. my last name. It is kind of awaken and clumbsy to say?
    I agree with Cobra and Judge. That’s depend if I am serious trouble as Police to be accurate.. Hey, I dont need to give you a details what I am using my husband’s or my maiden name .. I rather to use my maiden .. ( due my two daughter’s last name is differents) hmmm

    Good topic to bring up. I like the way as simple introducing… Nice to asking everyone about your question is excellent example idea.

    Deaf Pixie

  • Dianrez 16 years ago

    Yes, noticed that, though don’t use it myself. What was even more strange is that Hearing new signers will do it, too, making it very obvious. Apparently ASL classes are teaching it as part of Deaf culture…

  • Jean Boutcher 16 years ago

    Brave, Joey! I had been meaning to ask you or other vloggers, but I had never gotten around to doing so until you discussed this today. It was at Gallaudet in 1980s-1990s when I noticed about “first name-last name”. I suspect that it started at the New Signers Program (NPS) at Gallaudet.

    As a product of a private oral school at St. Francis Xavier’s as well as of Maryland School, and of Gallaudet in 1950s and 1970s — or at home where my parents received deaf visitors , for that matter, we normally did not use “first name–last name.”

  • James Bond 16 years ago

    Let me introduce myself,
    my name is Bond. James Bond.
    should we say that way? no way!!!


    hands waves to Joey!!!

  • Misha 16 years ago

    Great vlog!!! Yes, I’ve noticed lots of Deaf people using that like that. I’ve been wondering where did that ever come from.
    I don’t sign, “My first name, Misha, and My last name, Insane”. (Nevermind that Insane part, LOL) Notice that “and”? I’ve seen most of them say that way. I just sign, “Misha Insane”. That’s plain and simple. (Again, nevermind that Insane part, LOL)
    That gives me an idea that I may vlog about other interesting that has been bothering me for a while.

    Misha (No, I’m not Insane!) 😛

  • Misha 16 years ago

    Bah! I forgot to add thing after I commented, “That gives me an idea that I may vlog about other intersting (thing) that has been bothering me for a while.

    Bah! Forgive my typo.

    Misha 😀

  • Sara 16 years ago

    This is one of few peeves I have seen like this. I think two reasons…one was started from mainstreaming students who are not exposed much from ASL/Deaf community and second one is today we have unique names than years ago so they feel they should reveal on which is first name or last name.
    I always spell it with pause sometimes with lightly head nod with pause.
    We all have first and last names and no need to mention that. Silly.

  • deafk 16 years ago


    It has to be the fingerspelling issue for hearing people!! I can imgane how frustrated hearing people can be with fingerspelling… So, they ask them to say first name then fingerspell their name, and then say last name then fingerspell their name.

    I have witnessed the hearing people always demand for those approach to ease their receptive skills. I do not recall the deaf people, unless they would ask for that for the hearing people.

    So, guess this becomes habit for some Deaf people and yeah for some hearing people. We need to re-educate them, both of them!

    Whew, now it is not only me, smile!


  • puzzled 16 years ago

    I thought ASL was its own language? If so, then why did you say ASL should be the same (as English)? Maybe we should accept that as a part of ASL syntax?

  • Narbor 16 years ago

    Yeah, that’s very good question !!! It has been my pet peeve but somehow I noticed myself once that I happened saying my name Roseanne , last name…. I dont know why I said that. I guess it’s “habit” . AND Wonder did you noticed VRS operator did say , Hi, My name is Roseanne ….. I did ask operator why they have to say “my name is ……..” that I didn’t even say “my name Roseanne” Operator said all VRS have to say that. I hate that because hearing people will think we are low educated. huh? I love your question and made me curious why we have to say my first name… and my last name. I will check with my friends in our community. Good Job ! :-))

  • Joey Baer 16 years ago

    Thanks commenters for great comments and thoughts!

    Judge (#9) – what you brought up is really interesting and other topic! I need to watch for that more carefully next time and see if I actually notice that. Anyone else notice it??

    Looking forward to see more thoughts from others!

  • Jean Boutcher 16 years ago


    My friend has just emailed and said she
    agreed with me about that. What is ironical
    is that oral students of Generation X pick
    up that method from former oral teachers
    not only at Gallaudet’s New Signers
    Programs (NPS), but also in any class
    at Gallaudet (!).

  • deb ann 16 years ago

    I agree completely with you. I was puzzled when I met older adults ,and they were like that. I was just a child. My school doesn’t show us a way like that until I got out of school. Then I get used to it. Glad you brought it up! It’s a good topic and discussion.

  • Diane 16 years ago

    Gotcha … I hate this. I often notice this too! *eyes rolled*

    I rather say — my full name and that is it! When I first came to Gallaudet as a Deaf Oralist. I was like .. ugh. Many hearing people don’t do this! Only if a new hearing signer or a Deaf Oralist — I would go slooooow –first name ….. then last name…… LOL !

  • Diane 16 years ago

    You can use your name – Polar Baer because of your hair ;-).

  • Deafreckles 16 years ago


  • SDA 16 years ago

    Wait, wait…

    I have this strong hunch feeling that we hold this ‘rule for social interaction’ with some fondness. It reflects our people and how we use ASL. It has grown and evolved over the years by itself via our Deaf people. There is nothing wrong with that. This ‘rule’, I believe, has deep roots at our Deaf schools here in the US.

    Now to suggest that we follow the English way, how the hearing do it (i.e. your example about interpreters not saying exactly what we sign), I would like for us to step aside and look at this from a different viewpoint.

    For us to teach our Deaf youngsters to avoid going this “first name…, last name…” route, I see it as oppressive. Our Deaf youngsters do not need to be challenged nor made to feel inferior about how it would be written out in English.

    I see this as a colonized thinking and approach. It is like we practice linguicism. It seems to me that we perpetuate the cycle, giving the English language (and the hearing way) more power. Can’t we keep English and ASL separate? (I think that is what the interpreters are doing – they translate ASL and our culture to English, the hearing way without following literally everything we say in ASL which is fine.)

    Some 20 years ago, I locked horns with a Deaf teacher who would challenge his Deaf students to come up with English equivalents for some ASL signs. For example, when a student signed ‘SICK’, not referring to health ailment – but to mean “you are so silly (or funny)!”, the teacher would challenge her/ him to come up with the English word for that sign. That is SO wrong! ASL has its own vocabulary. ASL has many words (signs) that cannot be found in English and it is true vice versa. It happens with any languages in the world.

    I normally do not introduce myself using that ‘first name, last name’ route anymore like I used to when I was a young girl. But when we see somebody doing it, can we please leave it alone with respect, without degrading it?

  • Orkid @ Deaf Library 16 years ago

    That’s interesting thoughts … folks

    I usually spelled just my first name by spelling out my unique name. Often my name happen to be very different among Deaf people because they have never heard of my name before. Hence- hearing people quickly noticed the name as a reference to one certain flower name. So – visually my name is not actually Deaf friendly name because its must be pronounce correctly. : (((

    Also looking back during my Gally U. time, everyone LOVE to play with my favor name.
    “or (as in quick spelled) – KID (sign under your nose)”
    “OR (old sign OR) K-I-D”

    Have everyone out there have someone like that do love to play with your unique name?

    Often time, my last name is rarely spelled out after spelling my first name several times.

    Hate to repeat it again and again.

    – O.

  • Hugh 16 years ago

    #15 post beat me to it…….Love it….Bond, James Bond….Licensed to sign in A.S.L!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!

  • J.J. 16 years ago


  • TRH 16 years ago

    I never speak that way and it bothers me to see any deaf person to speak like that. It makes him/her appears as a low educated person. Yea! We all gotta break that habit! Let’s forward Joey’s vlog to all deafies in our addy list. Hopefully it will work.
    Hey Judge, that is great ! We need to break that habit, also.

  • MikeS 16 years ago

    Ha. I don’t think I ever signed that way in my life! Yep, see it all the time. I just spell full name.

  • IamMine 16 years ago

    You are right, Joey – I didn’t realize that till you pointed that out!

    I saw that with some deafies…but I never picked that up, though.

    It feels weird doing it now…

    Judge – lol. I’d have to pay attention to that next time and see if I noticed about the re-introduction.

    It’ll be interesting for tomorrow ‘cuz I’ll be in Lansing where there will be some deafies there and some leaders.

    The pause would be good – though you gotta admit it takes practice because of the awkward ‘silence’ for even a second.

    This is something that is taught in public speaking courses where even hearing people have a problem pausing and challenging for some – it takes practice and I I noticed it was also true for me. I felt awkward waiting for a few seconds to pass before moving on to next point or topic. Do I keep my hands in the air, put them down, etc…ah never mind.

    But that is a great teaching tool for ASL on names introduction!

  • Jerome Cain 16 years ago


  • LS 16 years ago


  • Diane 16 years ago

    My opinion: Originally, this introduction method was actually a rhetorical question. signed as “My first name?… _______My Last name?…_____” Pausing and then response with fingerspelling of name. Often, last step is “My Namesign?…_____”

    I love your VLOG and enjoy reading / watching your topics!! Diane

  • Sandra Goldstein 16 years ago


    My students are like your students by introducing themselves in the same way.

    I suspect they have this way to introduce such as like filling out the application form…They say first name…. last name…… I suspect that is why they emphasize the first name then last name…

    Same thing to place the order through the relay service…They ask what your first name then last name…

    Most of our kids tend to introduce their first names only. I ask them what are their last names.

    I guess that is why they emphasize first name and last name..

    I notice the deaf adults do the same thing…

    Interesting to analyze this trivial thing!

    Keep on vlogging, Joey!!!

    Sandra 🙂

  • Sandra Goldstein 16 years ago


    Our kids have their bad habits by saying first name and last name.

    I think most deaf people tend to introduce like that because of application forms to be filled out. The application form states first name…last name…

    Most of them tend to introduce only first names. People have to ask them what their last names are.

    The have that kind of habit to emphasize first name last name..

    When anyone places the order through the relay service, they tend to ask what first names are, then last names are…etc.

    I guess it is the reason why they use that kind of introducation.

    Keep on vlogging, Joey!

    Sandra 🙂

  • Joey Baer 16 years ago

    Hi again,

    Great discussion – I love it!! Some responses:

    SDA (#28) – I understand where you are coming from clearly and thanks for sharing what you really think. 🙂 I was only suggesting that we need to correct this kind of sign. It is more like of correcting our own language. LIke Barbara (#42) explained that we DO NOT see that kind of signing in old videos. That’s why I am asking how and why it started??

    And it is clear that some commenters above believe that it was the society who “told” us to sign this way in order for them to understand what we are signing. Therefore it is the reason of this vlog whether we should go back to old days and sign our way.

    But now if we look at J.J. Purro (#32), he has a point that when he sign his name, it can be somewhat confusing so he elected to sign “last name”. Interesting!!

    Any more thoughts??

  • Terri 16 years ago

    Hi Joey!! Great topic to bring up to the forefront to understand the underlying reason why its’ being used among some of us. As a child of Deaf parents, I’ve seen this oftentimes when new members would join in our deaf club introducing themselves this way. I would point it out to my mother and ask why they do that. All she did was shrug her shoulders. Years later…I still see this “habit” being used to this day. Honestly, when those who use this among our community, I tend to ignore this and accept it as it’s their way of communicating their names. BUT when there’s hearing people around and they introduced themselves like that…I admit, I CRINGE with embarrassment because I KNOW the hearing people looked puzzled and arch their eyebrows as to wonder why did this individual have to add “my first name….and last name…”

    While watching your vlog, I sit here and think back to my school days…I now can see which social groups would tend to use it. The A and B class students would spell out the names like “Joey Baer”, however those who are in the lower class C, D or so on (no offense to others) tend to use that “My name First Joey Second Baer”. I’ve grown used to it and accepted it as a part of our culture tendencies.

    I was wrong to be passive, I admit. From here on, I’m going to assist others who use this method in a kind and constructive manner at best to explain the proper introductory should I come across someone who uses this incorrect method. This is not a mere standing point of Right or Wrong but the basis of Proper and Improper methods of introductions.

    Thanks Joey for the eye opening antidote. As always, I enjoy your Vlogs!! : )

  • Platonic's Eye 16 years ago

    Laughing I love discusing about that ASL rules! In fact, ASL has been that way for a long time, and nothing is wrong with that! it might be a real ETIQUETTE of their own rules in ASL. Each language has its own etiquette!

  • deafkathy 16 years ago

    Haha, that brought up memories when I visited one deaf school where both of my kids attended. I met a Deaf teacher who taught Deaf Culture and I introduced myself to him and told him exactly what you just mentioned. The teacher said to me “Oh your name is “My first name is K A T H Y and my last name is W I L S O N”, I was numbed and realized that I did actually signed this… my bad!! After that I stopped doing this and using this “Me, KATHY WILSON” instead.

  • kerri 16 years ago

    Interesting! I did notice some people do that, but not as often. I think it has to do with age. No offense or anything. ASL, like all signed and spoken languages, are always evolving (I’ve seen really old ASL signs) so I’m sure those my age don’t really say “First name is….” “Last name is….” We all always fingerspell our names.

    I’m 31 and not a lot of people my age use that kind of introduction. It could be that because the majority of my deaf friends came from the oral deaf school (Houston School for Deaf Children, now called Center for Hearing and Speech) and we grew up oral first, so we were first taught spoken English. We all use ASL and SEE also, and maybe we have already influenced people to introduce ourselves by fingerspelling our names without “First Name” and “Last Name.” 🙂

    It is interesting though!

  • Sandra Goldstein 16 years ago


    It is me again. I have another thought about first name…last name style.

    You can tell what kind of person is. Anyone who introduces in that style is very passive and insecure.

    Regarding the Judge…repeat his name after the person who introduced him or her…That person is egoticistic and wants to be sure that everyone catches his or her name.


  • Tara (MO) 16 years ago

    Maybe it is because when they were taught how to spell their names and the teacher would say what is your first name and they spelled their first name then the teacher would ask what is your last name…maybe they got the habit of saying first name Ron last name Smith? I am not sure how it started, but I do recall seeing some teachers asked students what is their first name then last name.

  • CJ 16 years ago

    Hey Joey,

    Yeah, I agree with you. I have been wondering about that for many years until you brought up that issue. I think that it is habit (trend) for years???…or they try to emphasis their name and last name separately???…I am glad that you brought up and I keep reading more comments..

    Have great day! 🙂

  • DeafKitty 16 years ago

    I noticed deaf people sign first name xxxx and last name xxxxx. They asked me “What is your name”. I sign Joey Baer. They asked me “What is your last name”. I sign Baer. They thought my first name is Joey Baer. Interesting?!

  • todoslavie 16 years ago


  • Jenny 16 years ago

    I have to agree with SDA. Even if it wasn’t done 100 years ago, it’s been done for a long time now. I don’t do the “last name” thing and I’ve always spelled my full name out with the pause. But it’s part of the subaltern/grassroots consciousness and I think it should be left alone. Just my $0.02. 🙂

  • kerri 16 years ago

    Good point Sandra….!

  • D.D. 16 years ago

    Just saw this vlog! I want to reply to #13 (Dianrez)’s comment saying that ASL classes are teaching that. I disagree with you, in the most common ASL curriculums, they do NOT teach that! Even the ones that has been introduced recently.

    I personally am an ASL teacher and I never teach my students to do that.

    In fact, when someone does that,I just cringe! Its one of my pet peeves!

  • Mishkazena 16 years ago

    This got me thinking.

    I didn’t see this ‘first name, last name’ used in late 70’s or 80’s, now to think of it. I assumed Deaf Community had adopted a new rule later.

    When did you all started noticing this used? in 90’s or 00’s?

  • Joey Baer 16 years ago

    D.D. (#55) – I have to agree with you that it is NOT even in ASL curriculum to sign this way. We need to go back to old ways that we have pauses between first and last names!

    Mishkazena (#56) – I started noticing this in early 1990’s myself. What about others?

  • Jean Boutcher 16 years ago


    I first noticed it in 1983 when new preparatory
    students arrived at NWC.

  • deafk 16 years ago

    true, Joey & MZ,

    you’re right….I noticed this in early 1990’s.. hmm..

  • Martin Seaman 16 years ago

    When I was growing up in mainstream schools I used to sign first name name last name name. I think it’s because of signing english and how hearing teachers taught us to do that. I dropped that habit after I enrolled at a deaf residental school when I was 13 or 14 years old. I wasn’t taught formally and I just incorporated that ASL rule without even knowing it. I would say this type of immersion that happens at deaf schools that are taught in ASL would help student to incorporate ASL without even knowing rules.

  • SDA 16 years ago

    The ‘first name, last name’ thingy has been around for years! It’s not new. When I enrolled at my Deaf school in 1965 (yes, i’m kinda old), students at my school were already using that route. So it’s been around since 1960’s – maybe in1950’s too??

  • SnoopyFreak02 16 years ago


  • Sandra Goldstein 16 years ago

    It is me again and again. This topic is very interesting.

    I was born to deaf family. I never saw my deaf parents’ friends who used this style. I guess iit started inclusion programs ( from Public Law ) in 1970″s. Before Public Law 94142 existed most of the deaf population came from residential schools for the Deaf. After PL 94142…deaf people sign strange as well weird.
    No rules to introduce… Make our deaf world very interesting! If same style, we would be very boring.


  • Jon Savage 16 years ago


  • Isis 16 years ago

    Joey, I understand your point of view. However, I use my first and last name for interpreter’s purpose through the relay service and college for introduction. For instance, most interpreters do not know deaf’s name by sign, therefore deaf people need to spell their first and last name. Does this make a sense? Good luck to everyone.

  • perry connolly 16 years ago

    Joey, excellent reminder to all ASL instructors. I grew up and educated at Rochester School for the Deaf. We usually learned by fingerspelling names only. We never learned first ….. last ….. Bothers me likewise. I usually emphasize my students to avoid first and last. Your tip is well suggested.

  • ms michele 16 years ago


  • Joseph Pietro Riolo 16 years ago

    I would like to express my agreement with SDA who emphasized on respect for those who spell out their names using the rule of “first name, last name”.

    It smacks of purism to insist that the rule is not acceptable in ASL. Does it ever occur to the ASL signers that the language evolves, creates new rules or picks up rules from other languages? ASL is not a dead language that is frozen in stone. It is a living language that absorbs ideas from all sources.

    It just occurs that there are two rules for spelling out one’s name. One rule is simply to spell out the first and last names with a brief pause between them. Other rule is to add “first name” and “last name” to the first and last names of the signer respectively. These rules can co-exist. There is no valid, rational reason to reject one rule for one other. Too many languages have redundant rules. The English language has many rules that allow a speaker or writer express one single idea in many ways.

    Let’s leave them alone who want to sign “first name” and “last name” when mentioning their names.

    I have seen some signers used the rule of “first name, last name” since 1970’s. I attended St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Rochester School for the Deaf and Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf, all before 1981. This shows that the rule is not limited to one place but occurred in several places. Since 1981, I have seen the rule occurred in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and even California.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

  • debby 16 years ago

    Very interesting. After I saw your Vlog. A young deaf lady came to my house and needed to use my VP. She answered a hearing person’s question through interp-relay service, “my name is _____and my last name is ____” I guess that is Deaf’s habits.

  • MJohnson 16 years ago

    I always say ME MARK ( SHORT PAUSE) JONES.

    Good Idea for me to write on the blackboard if have to, thank you, Joey.

    Maybe they learned from Signed Excalt English’s proper way to introduce their names?

  • Grace 16 years ago

    I grew up in a 4 deaf generations family and we all attended same deaf school which was oral then changed to total communication then to ASL. We dont introduce ourselves as first name____ and last name_____. But in school, I have seen that while I was growing up. In my family, we dont do that. I dont know how it orginated. Most of my parents’ friends dont do that. Few of my friends do that and most dont. Why? Who knows. Matter of comfort level?

    As for reintroducting themselves again, I think they already wrote that in their speech paper and dont know how to deviate from that? (Presentators).. Just say “Thank you for the introduction”.. Grin

  • Ron 16 years ago

    Good wakeup call to Deaf and Hearing ASL basic teachers. Some do not use but most do. Everytime people use this, it freaks me out to know they come from MARS where MSL is coded into ASL!

  • Lane 16 years ago

    Just what you said I start it properly by saying my name but sometimes end up having to say which one is my first and which is last.

    People gets it mixed up….

    Lane Grover……Grover Lane….Oh well.

    Interesting topic, I’ll have to watch others to see if I can catch that habit.

  • Sean Gerlis 16 years ago


    Awesome topic.

    There are so many people in NYC who signs this way. I thought I’d drop in my comment.

    #37 – Jerome Cain – Bull’s eye! I feel the exactly same way as you present your opinion. This trend comes from grassroot community. Residential often teaches the students with Minimum Language Skills (MLS) how to present themselves. It has become into the habit of identifying one-self by using hang-word to bring their names. This trend has become part of ASL.

    Which brings up – #42 – Barb DiGi – I beg to differ! If it is not mentioned by George Veditz, it does not mean it is “NOT” ASL. ASL is a language that evolved by a group of people who attempt to communicate with each other and their spin-offs. I realize I could be wrong. But that’s how I interpret this. (Please correct me if I am mistaken.) However, right now – Since this trend – first name [name], last name [name] is part of ASL and very often used by grassroot.

    Now, I’d like to point something out from Judge’s #9 vomment – I believe it is a part of how we present ourselves to a larger audience. I think it is our way to conjoin our names with our faces. When you introduce someone by their name, people will think “Phil Jacob” without a face. Once you introduce yourself, “My name is Phil Jacob.” People will think, “OH! That’s Phil Jacob, hmmm!” (Pun intended. ;-)) It’s not the issue about clarity of finger spelling, or introduction, or… etc. It’s our way to conjoin between the name and face.

    Last, Joey, great way to initiate a topic! So simple, yet vital.


    p.s. My opinion? Let’s say my opinion is, yes – I’ve seen this very often in residential school, and grassroot community. Most of people up there who expressed their opinion are pretty much correct. 🙂

  • Donnie Craig 16 years ago

    Hello First Name Joey 🙂

    I’ve noticed that but not too often. However I often find myself clarifying my name since my first and last name can be used as first name. Often even with using a pause, people would still get confused thinking Craig be my last name. As others pointed out, it depends on the complexity of your full name.

    A possible theory that hasn’t been brought up here which is information sharing. In deaf culture, seems the deaf has a strong desire to share information. After 5 minutes of meeting a deaf person for the first time I usually would know about family, employment, and place of residence. Would probably take much longer among the hearing. Perhaps we’ve been a victim one time too many of being misinformed or left out thus the need to “over inform” one another.

    Interesting topic.

    First Name Donnie Last Name Craig

  • Nick Vera 16 years ago

    Absolutely agreed all comments. I have seen most deaf people in grassroot community often. Personally, I believe they emphasized clearly to depict their names individually.

    One of vloggers emphasized the rules of ASL to use the names with one pause. Indeed, I agreed with her.

    If the residential schools for the deaf and hard of hearing provide ASL + English classes to the students to comphrend the structures and rules, then everything will be perfect to communicate in proper approach.

    Of course, some people have strange or foreign names to introduce themselves (I don’t mean to offend anything). It will be nice to establish where their names come from and with their common names in their home countries.

    In the same example of the baseball player, LA Dodgers, Rick Monday with his full name, some people might tend to confuse his name that was silly or make it up or did not trust that person’s provding his full name. Usually, we learned that name belong to the weekday system to establish in our learning evironment. The worst part about my old friend, who had difficult to communicate with her VR counselor thru TTY conversation due to his refusal accepation of this person’s unauthentic name. This person was upset and told the counselor about her authentic name which her parents gave her at her birth. For reason, this person must make clear to convey her/his full time through relay operators or encounter hearing friends through live sign language interpreters.

    Have a good weekend!

    Nick Vera

  • Dino Sheridan 16 years ago

    I grew up in a Deaf family and grew up watching grownups introduce themselves to others.

    The old fashioned way was to spell your first name (pause) then last name WHILE POINTING the signing wrist (for emphasis). If the viewer missed the last name, then the signer would emphasize “Last-last” then spell out the name.

    I always suggest people to visit Deaf Senior Citizens. There are many “lost art” of ASL that has not been carried into modern ASL. Some are good signs…other signs simply faded away.

    One thing for sure, Deaf Senior Citizens tend to fingerspell more than young Deaf signers.

    To be fair, there are new ASL signs that the Deaf Senior Citizens do appreciate.

    New Deaf…old Deaf…they both can exchange/share their ASL to each other.

    Keep up the good work!

  • John Critser 16 years ago

    I have not read any of the comments above, to keep my answer honest and straight out of my head and experience:

    My response:

    “It is a little theatric to have to say FIRST name is, and LAST name is, as if we are being introduced on stage or narrating ourselves. I agree with Joey Baer’s suggestion to just finger spell the first name, with a brief pause, and then spell the last name. We always assume Deaf people do not understand if we do not point out it is first name and last name but we MUST be recognizant of foreign names.

    Their surnames which are in different order than the names we are accustomed to hearing. In most of Western culture, the given name precedes the family name; some other cultures place it after the family name, or use no family name. In that case that is when we should emphasize how they prefer to be called, by asking them. I don’t have a particular example, but in this case we should pay attention to this.

    But for normal western cultural names, we just only have to spell out the first and last names with a pause in between.

    Make sense? Now I will read all the comments above and see what others have pitched in!

  • terry dockter 16 years ago


    Kissfist y’all, Deaf sisters, and Deaf brothers for great comments here…

    (wait…don’t leave out here right now… I am the 78th person here, jeeze!)


    Kudo to Joey Baer for bringing up the topic, it’s definitely an all-mysterious “why-why some heaf, deaf, Deaf people peg do that?!?”. For many moons, I do often wonder why…

    Well, obviously, the power of linguistic-proven ASL does prevail and does evolve with time matters. And my real flesh time is only tiny, a speck in time line of Deafurrasic era (400+ years)… FYI, THE BIG BANG FLYINGHANDS theory is not in yet shrinking! Since my birth, I am STILL so in love with ASL, and so is my old Deaf soul before time of self-existence!

    Yea, that had brought me out with flashback at my history class at Deaf school many years ago, it was about ancient Tower of Babel, “God” had spell a curse among laborers with seven different languages in order to confuse each others. Result: OUT OF JOBS… unfortunately, no interpreters were available at that time. That was some #s in B.C.

    Now, coming to my point, I find that 2-5-8!, no one above from #1 to #77 (correct, if I had overlooked one or more of yours, above) had mentioned quite substantial “reasonable beyond doubt” amount about highly possibility influences coming from non-certified or certified ASL hearing interpreters. Pre-1964 and Post-1964, hmm? I do feel those interpreters, not all (no offenses intended, and excluding those ASL hearing interpreters from Rochester, LOL) do have poor receptions with catching customer’s fingerspellings… hence “FIRST NAME, LAST NAME” was born?… in other word, time-pause token for them.

    Does the english word “babble” was born out of Tower of Babel’s story?

    And now, just for food of thoughts…

    Tower of Babel…

    Clock Tower (of) Seven different sign languages… are S.E.E., P.S.E., C.A.S.E., L.O.V.E. 1, L.O.V.E. 2, Total Communication (almost extinct), and our TRUE American Sign Language, ASL… kudos to interpreters for now, lol… we thank you, all!

    td (on-the-chin)

  • Terri 16 years ago

    Hi again, Joey…(recent post #44)

    Ive returned to this blog periodically to view other’s input in regards to your vlog. Interesting insights thus far… I just thought of another commonly used habit other than the “My first name…..last name……” used among some of our dear preserved culture. Reversal of compound words. What??? For an example…shoe lace reversed to lace shoe, bubble gum reversed to gum bubble, sandpaper reversed to paper sand and so forth. You get the gist… I “ping” follow up right after with a correction asking if they meant “shoelace” “bubble gum” clearly to correct without an obvious direct correction. This is just a thought to share… Smile!!

  • Hartmut 16 years ago

    hi from the ole friend of your family from Germany!

    During my Gally time from 1964 to 1971, no one does this “first name, lastname” routine. Then I came to NH and started to interact with the Deaf grassroot there (1971) I saw this being used, however not often, as they tended not introduce themselves to outsiders anyway. I saw this as a register thing or a sociolinguistic variation in style: academician vs. grassroot, hearing vs. Deaf or because of some mysterious variable.

    Later I realized something more profound: it is when you wish to present information in topic-comment (first name …, last name …) or subject-verb style.(my name is ….), exactly as #39 above remarked. Plus, the sign NAME is singular, the introducer has to perceive their names as two or one before choosing either style.

    Actually the structure MY FIRST NAME …., MY LAST NAME …

  • Hartmut 16 years ago

    is a poor reconstruction, a clumsy one. Actually what I saw and use myself is as given by #44 above:


    and this is more elegant and I judge more beautiful and has more texture, than the flat sibjevt-verb format.

    I use both styles, depending on who I am introducing to. I also noticed, when I use the topic-comment format to a grassroot deaf person, I get more rapport with them, while doing the subject-verb format, I would create more distance from them.

    So I am not one to propose “correcting” the topic-comment format in favor of subject-verb one when introducing, only because the academicians do this way.

    If one expression has more texture, then that would be more preferrable.


  • dan / b 16 years ago

    hello first name joey…


    that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. during my leadership presentations or workshops, i usually do what you’ve mentioned in your vlog. and i’d get chuckles and grins outta them. however, i’ve seen some hearing teachers or interpreters do that as well, and sorry to say that, but i’d correct them on the spot. and let them know that it’d not be appropriate. (even though they’d tell me that they had learned from a deaf person – and that is like going into circles). there would be some things that i’d be willing to let go or pass, but not this one.

    reason for that is because in mainstreamed settings, those very same teachers and interpreters are often a deaf child’s only role model… especially in schools that do not have a critical mass of deaf students. and for this habit to continue being perpetuated? gotta stop and pull out some weeds here and there, do some coaching and make some difference. :o)

    dan / b

  • Hartmut 16 years ago

    Oooops, in post #83!

    I meant to type: LAST, not SECOND. The sentence should read:

    MY NAME FIRST …., LAST …..



  • Cynthia K 16 years ago


    Good point! When I was taking interpreting classes (college), we were taught (FN)….(LN)… during the beginning. Then, as we got into advanced classes, we were taught to introduce ourselves with our name signs (if we had them). So I was taught, “Hi, my name C-y-n-t-h-i-a, name sign, K-a-n-i-s-k-i. Now I introduce myself that way because it was what I got used to hanging out with the Deaf college crowd.

  • Jessica 16 years ago

    Hi Joey,

    As a hearie who took ASL and interpreting classes in the midwest and has not yet become an interpreter, I find your blog very educational and have been lurking here for awhile. I’ve watched your video a few times and read most of the comments and I think I understand the topic, but I would love clarification from you.

    What I think you are saying is,

    (1) It is an interesting cultural/linguistic pattern that has evolved among many signers.

    (2) You wish that interpreters would voice “My name is Joey Baer” rather than “My first name is Joey, last name Baer.”

    (3) You wonder how this evolved in the first place and welcome ideas about that.

    (4) Some people have strong preferances about whether they like to see this used or not.

    I would love to know if I am on the right track. As a linguist, I have a high tolerance for variations in language. Language is a living, changing, and very strange animal!

    I also like to pick up and spread correct interpreting conventions, so if it is signed FIRST NAME A-B-C, LAST NAME X-Y-Z, but it should be voiced “My name is ABC XYZ,” I’d really love to know!


  • Dino Sheridan 16 years ago

    Hey Joey —
    I have another pet peeve: the “screaming-E” sign.

    You go back to old ASL films, you’ll find that the “e” is shown with all four fingernails perched on the thumb…just like birds on a branch.

    Now, I often see an open-E handsign…”screaming-E”…how did this happen?

    Just curious…

  • Shawn Lattier 16 years ago

    Greeting everyone,

    I do believe one theory but have no evidence. I grew up mainstream elementary school in El Cerrito named Harding Elemetary School. They have deaf programs for deaf students (wondering still there or not?) Anyway, I grew up total communication oral plus sign language (SEE) so interesting I do believe they taught us how to introduce (sp?) our name to kids or teachers by say “my name is Shawn and my last name is Lattier” so wondering most people who come from mainstream taught them to say their name by first name and last name? Hey Joey, I would like to suggest u to ask those who new students who taught them to say that then you might find the theory clear so that’s my theory

  • Laural Brasel 16 years ago

    Very good !!! Good point !!! I am glad you start to spread the words to Deaf friends. I will make sure to share my friends also. Cheer

  • Larry 16 years ago

    We need to check with Deaf elders to see if they say that way and how long have they been doing that way. We can pinpoint where it all started.

    On personal note, I do not do this kind of introduction except with customer representative via VP (in the past TRS). I believe this is convenient for customer representative over VP (TRS). We all know their routine where they would ask one question at a time, what is your first name? Your last name? One confusing example would be that my old friend’s first name is Laurence and his last name is Lawrence. Oh brother!!!

    Some comments above me mentioned about internalizing this type of introduction in class at school. I agreed with them completely. I used to teach Deaf Studies and observed 2nd grade class (I believe). There was a new student that joined in the middle of the year and the teacher asked him to introduce to the peers. He only introduced his first name. The teacher then reinforced by saying, “That is your first name, what is your last name?”

    This process of internalization builds up over the years with this approach by teachers, Deaf / HoH community, VRS, TRS, etc.

    That’s my thought.

  • Sarah Lui 16 years ago

    My comment is, the last name first name dilemma is not needed. saying your name with a break in between the first and last instead of signing, last first and whatsoever, should be enough. — and anyways it just wastes time, you could’ve moved on to talking about who the person you talking to is.

  • Monica Keller 16 years ago

    Me Monica (pause) Keller

    I believe why we have that issues just because in the past where we have difficult times making sure that we are clear for others to understand us, including interpreters and that habit start to pass on generations.

    To follow up with the man who mentioned about the deaf people who say that kind of style just because their life was not exposed enough about the differences between English and ASL therefore they believe it is better to include those words. Or they have been experiencing communication barriers so they will make sure they are extremely clear for others. As for the people who just say it without mentioning that it is their first/last name do have the understanding the differences and doesn’t say it while introducing themselves.

  • Owen 16 years ago

    Thats a good point because its gets kinda annoying for a while sign my first name is…. and my last….. just signing your first and last. Simple as that

  • Joey Baer 16 years ago

    Betty –

    Do you have any theory on why we sign that way? Since you have lived in Deaf community longer than many of us, have you given it some thought?

  • Why? 16 years ago

    I used teaching ASL. I also grew up in Deaf family.

    Your comment is interesting. I think the reason Deaf need to emphasize or make clear of first name and last name. I have seen many when talking thru VRS many business people ask me first name then last name. So that has became necessary.

    Why try to change tradiation of ASL? Just leave our precious true old ASL alone. People complained about hearing people trying to change our ASL. I see that not only hearing people but we deaf people also who try to change ASL.

    What do you think? Smile

  • Monica Shimmin 16 years ago

    Joey, I just now viewed your vlog about how we introduce our first and last names in ASL. When I was in the new signers program (NSP) at Gallaudet, I watched my ASL teacher demonstrate how to introduce ourselves to another signer and she did just what you demonstrated (my name is first name XXX last name XXX). Your vlog made wonderful points and I shall stop signing “first name … last name …” immediately!

  • gina 15 years ago

    When I speak, I say my name and then spell it and then say my last name and then spell it. I do this often when i am speaking with vendors that need this type of information. I believe that signing “first/last” is the spoken equivalent of doing this (when you sign “first” this would be like me saying my first name in its entirety before I spell it and when i sign “last” this would be saying my last name in its entirety before I spell it). Of course, there are all those other equivalencies that CAN be used, such as eye gaze, pauses, etc if a person would prefer to use these methods instead of signing “first/last”. SMILE!

  • Jackie 14 years ago

    This is such an interesting vlog! I think I agree that it could be to clarify what is first and last because finger spelling can end up confusing sometimes. I usually see either people sign “first” and “last” before their name, or like you mentioned, use a spaced pause when finger spelling to make it obvious. I don’t think it is necessary to completely get rid of this, because differences like this are what make ASL such a unique language.


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