Fingerspelling Double Letters

Fingerspelling, a fundamental component of sign languages worldwide, serves as a bridge between the visual and auditory worlds. As intricate and expressive as any spoken language, fingerspelling enables deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to convey proper nouns, technical terms, and unfamiliar words.

Within the realm of fingerspelling lies a captivating aspect that demands precision and finesse—the formation of double letters. In this article, we delve into the intriguing world of fingerspelling double letters.

Here is a quick explainer of a few various ways double letters are handled in ASL with some resources you can check out to go a little deeper…  

There are different ways to fingerspell double letters in names, depending on the letter and the preference of the signer. 

If you are still in the beginning stages of learning the language, don’t get overwhelmed by all of the various techniques, over time you’ll get the hang of it and become more comfortable with producing and reading fingerspelling names and words that include double letters.

However, if you’d like to dig a little deeper, here are some common techniques you’ll come across:  

SLIDE: The signer moves their hand slightly to the side while repeating the same letter. This technique can be used for most letters, especially those that are closed, such as A, C, E, O, etc. 

TAP: The signer taps their finger twice on their palm or thumb while repeating the same letter. This technique can be used for letters that have a contact point, such as D, K, M, N, P, S, T, etc.  

ARCH: The signer lifts their hand slightly up and down while repeating the same letter. This technique can be used for letters that are open or curved, such as B, G, H, L, R, U, V, etc.  

Z: The signer makes a slightly bent V and signs a Z. This technique is used for the letter Z only. 

J: The signer signs J twice and moves it slightly to the right or left depending on their dominant hand. This technique is used for the letter J only.  

Some tips to remember when fingerspelling double letters in names are:  

  • Maintain a smooth rhythm and speed as you spell the words
  • Avoid bouncing your hand as you spell names and words
  • Aim for clarity, not speed
  • For complex, unusual, or weird words, go the extra mile to make sure it’s clear
  • The direction of your movement is always away from your body

Understanding and appreciating the beauty of fingerspelling double letters brings us closer to creating a more inclusive and vibrant world of language exchange.

Even though fingerspelling double letters can be tricky at times, with practice and attention to detail, you can master this skill and communicate more clearly and confidently in ASL. 

Do you have any questions or comments about fingerspelling double letters? Let us know in the comment section below!

If you would like to do a deeper dive, here are some links you can check out:

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