Fingerspelling in American Sign Language
There is an ASL sign (or handshape) for each letter of the alphabet. Fingerspelling is the use of the signed alphabet to spell words. Fingerspelling is quite common in ASL.
Fingerspelling is used to:
- Spell people's names or other proper nouns, such as places, titles, or organization names that do not have a designated ASL sign.
- Spell words from spoken language that don't have a designated sign, such as slang or profession-specific jargon.
- Spell words that you do not know the ASL sign for.
- Some people prefer to fingerspell even if there is an ASL sign for a word. There is nothing wrong with that, fingerspelling can be used as often as one would like.
Fingerspelling takes practice. You need to learn the signs that make up the alphabet. You need to learn to string the signs together to make words. And you need to become a good speller both for expressive and receptive fingerspelling.
You can search for any word in the search box above and have it fingerspelled, such as JOHN (a name).
We also have many tools and resources to help you learn and improve your fingerspelling on Signing Savvy, including: