Since repeatedly spelling out proper names in sign language is time consuming, signers give people “sign names” that are faster to do.
When a sign name is given to you, it’s special. A bit like losing your deaf virginity. 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.
(via lone gunman)