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ILY Handshape

February 14, 2007


The best-known sign is the I love you handshape. It is everywhere in the world. Is anyone out there know who invented I love you handshape? We are trying to find the information but no luck.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Fookem and Bug love you!

Categories: Deaf History
  1. Jay Croft
    February 14, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Eric Malzkuhn told me many years ago that the ILY sign is not really ASL; it was invented by hearing people. However, Ruth Phillips, wife of Dr. Richard Phillips (long-time dean at Gallaudet) told me that it was used when she was a youth, at the Indiana School for the Deaf.

    In the late 1960s I never saw it used in New York City. Then I moved to Ohio. Hearing people were teaching sign language classes, and they were teaching ILY. The Deaf community was not using it.

    Later I began to see Deaf people use it more and more, in other cities. Now it seems to be accepted by many Deaf people, although I don’t use it.

  2. February 14, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    Obviously, it is American in origin, because the same expression in other languages wouldn’t use the ILY letters. Beyond that, it is likely a Deaf invention because we have other signs that combine the hand alphabet. “Hi” being the first one I learned in the late 50’s, “IHY” for “I hate you” and “BY” as a sign for both “by” and “bye”. Also, Hearing people are unlikely to know or modify the hand alphabet.

  3. Elle
    February 14, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Really, I have no idea, either.

    Happy Valentine to you, Fookem and Bug.

  4. May 28, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    hiits me nancy i still want color ily shirt i want yu ll send me abt ily shirt e-mail please anytimes sincerly nnancy

  1. March 4, 2007 at 4:14 pm
  2. April 17, 2011 at 10:51 pm
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