Sign Language Puns: Everything You Should Know

sign language puns

Puns depend on similar words, sounds, or spelling to make their listeners laugh.

A pun is a play on words for the sake of humor. 

It is also known as paronomasia, which means to create a name change. 

In puns, different senses of the same word can be deliberately confused.  

Puns could create various hilarious responses by making people laugh and lighten up the mood in a room.

They exist in different languages; sign language is no exception. 

By using visual gestures and signs, it is possible to communicate in puns in the deaf culture. 

Keep reading to find out some details about sign language puns. 

Table of Contents

Types of Sign Language Puns

Bilingual Puns

These puns interplay between a spoken language (like English) and American Sign Language (ASL).

You can also call them hybrid puns

Bilingual puns use homophobes in either one or both languages to get a humorous effect. 

For bilingual puns, it is best if your audience is familiar with sign language. This will make it easier for them to relate to your puns. 

A classic bilingual pun is one about pasteurized milk, which is the sign for milk made while moving in front of the eyes to mean ‘past your eyes milk.’

Related: Advantages and Disadvantages of Being Deaf

True American Sign Language (ASL) Puns

A true ASL pun uses only the properties of ASL.

Rather than being based on similar sounds, true ASL puns are based on signs that have similar handshapes or motions involved. 

To describe how a sign behaves within the signer’s space, you can use five parameters. 

They are hand shape, palm orientation, expression/non-manual signs, movement, and location. 

For the use of puns, you can combine these parameters differently. Similar-looking signs can also be used in wordplay. 

In making sign language puns, you have the advantage of using double meanings to create humor.

Some puns in the style of riddles involve the use of two signs with identical hand shapes. You can creatively and slightly alter your hand movements to get a funny effect. 

Why You Should Make Sign Language Puns

american sign language puns

1. Puns are excellent conversation enhancers. You can break the tension in a conversation by just using puns. 

Puns are also great for lightening up the mood in a room. 

2. Puns are entertaining. If you are good at makings puns, you could make it a source of entertainment for others. There are a lot of people that would love good puns. 

3. Puns could relieve stress. You can consider puns as a positive distraction during stressful seasons. However, it would be best if you were sensitive enough to know when to make a pun and when not to. 

4. Sharing puns could promote group bonding among your friends. Sharing a laugh is always great and could help strengthen your relationships. 

5. Puns are great improvers for bad moods. You can cheer your friend up by making funny puns. 

6. Puns help you think widely and also fast. You can show off your intelligence by using puns. Your audience will be surprised about how you came up with the puns, and you will look brilliant.

Related: How a Blind Person Communicates with a Deaf Person

Tips on Making Excellent Sign Language Puns

Puns could serve as a great input in your conversations.

However, there are a few tips to bear in mind to avoid coming off as boring to your partner. 

Be familiar with the different types of puns

You need to understand how to join words and different definitions to form puns. 

Expand your vocabulary

Beyond studying books and other academic items, take more of the words or phrases you come across daily.


No matter how good you are at making puns, there is always room for improvement. With practice, you can make better puns. 

You can engage with the help of fellow ASL users and also receive feedback. 

Hone your pun skill

Do this by learning from expert pun makers.

There are different platforms where you can learn how to make great puns.

Check out videos on YouTube and other social media platforms for some examples.

Avoid being sarcasm

The use of sarcasm could be offensive and hurtful. Remember, the goal of using puns is to make jokes and not cause hurt or offense. 

Be polite

You could appear rude if you make your pun in the middle of a serious conversation. 

Identify the right timing

Do this before sharing whatever pun you have thought of. 

You could wait until something humorous occurs and then use the light atmosphere as an opportunity to share. 

Never share awful puns

It is improper to make a joke at the expense of anyone. 

Related: 4 Mind-Blowing Ways a Deaf Person Calls the Police

Sign Language Communication Tips You Must Bear in Mind

There are some general rules in the deaf culture. 

These tips are essential for effective communication with deaf people. 

Ensure you have the attention of the deaf person you are talking with

sign language puns

It will be a waste if you start to make puns without even securing the attention of your conversation partner. 

You can do this by waving at them or tapping their shoulder gently. 

You can even turn the lights in the room off and on. Doing this will surely get their attention. 

Eliminate distractions in the room before starting your conversation

Ensure that there are no background noises and any slight possibility of being distracted by others. 

There should be proper lighting in the room

The deaf person might not understand you if they cannot see your face. Make sure you are visible. Don’t stay in front of a bright light source. 

Be as straightforward as possible

You must be clear and direct all through your communication process. 

Take your time

Avoid being in a rush while communicating.

Since you’re giving sign language puns, you might be a little slower than usual so that the deaf person can grasp and understand your puns.

Make sure you don’t leave the conversation halfway

This is considered rude. If you need to stop the conversation, communicate appropriately with the deaf person.

Leaving the conversation halfway will keep the deaf person waiting without a result. 

Make your mouth visible

If using cued speech or lip-reading techniques, don’t place anything in your mouth.

Doing this could come off as confusing to the deaf person. 

Use eye contact to enhance communication

You’ll be considered rude and disrespectful if you break eye contact while conversing with a deaf person. 

Make sure you always maintain eye contact during conversations. Looking away could signify the end of a conversation. 

Sign Language Puns: Everything You Should Know


My love for the disabled community started when I helped a blind man cross the road at around age 6. Fast forward to decades later, I became the caregiver of my grandma, who lost her ability to speak in her 90s. This blog helps me to produce helpful content that aligns with my passion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top