Can I write my signature in my conlang's (constructed language) script, which consists entirely of straight lines? If not, why?

  • Similar question: Can I sign legal documents with a smiley face? – Nate Eldredge Jan 6 at 19:46
  • Practice varies considerably by jurisdiction. In many countries in East and Southeast Asia, the primary means of signing important legal documents is with a personal stamp (often with red ink) containing the Chinese characters of one's name. The U.S. is extraordinarily liberal, by and large, about what constitutes a legal name, but most countries substantially regulate what is allowed in style and form. Also, limitations imposed by design in legacy software systems impose practical limitations, notwithstanding the black letter law on what is a valid signature in many contexts. – ohwilleke Jan 6 at 19:49
  • Also, FWIW, physical stamps and seals preceded the practice of manually signing one's name on documents by many centuries when only professionally trained clerks whose rarity in those societies was comparable to lawyers or PhDs in our societies, were capable of doing so, and even wealthy merchants and lesser aristocrats weren't literate. Signing became common sometime around the late Iron Age and wasn't truly widespread until the Enlightenment era. – ohwilleke Jan 6 at 19:58

Legally, yes.

A legally binding signature doesn't have to be written in cursive, or in English, or even be your name, or any text at all for that matter. The purpose of a signature is to identify the person who is signing the document, and to indicate that they have understood and approved the document. So long as you have a reasonably unique and reproducible mark, your signature can be pretty much anything, from your name, to a pseudonym, to pictograph. A classic trope in media is for pirates or peasants or other illiterate people to simply sign contracts with an "X" or to "make their mark", since they are unable to write their own name.

Now, using things other than your name written in cursive might be frowned upon and difficult to implement in practice, since a pictograph can't be as easily linked to an individual as a name can, and signing a contract with something other than a recognizable form of your name is a downright unusual way to conduct business. When signing for a mortgage, for example, a lender might get fears that you're trying to defraud them if you start signing all your documents with a smiley face. But in principle, signing a mortgage with a smiley face or conlang script is exactly as binding as signing your real name in cursive.

Local laws may vary in what constitutes a signature, but it seems this is generally the case.

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    A signature indicates not only that the signer has read the document, but has approved it, as a rule. – David Siegel Jan 6 at 19:10
  • Even when signed by the same person, no two signatures are exactly alike if only due to small unconcious movements. What makes this unique in evidence is that being too accurate is strong evidence of forgery of a signature than one that is subtly different to a trained expert. – hszmv Jan 6 at 19:14
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    Typically the identity of the signer would also be written on the document in print, which is less prone to artistic sylization than cursive. A date would also be written to note when the signing happened. That way, you have a distinct looking mark that you could more readily reproduce, a legibable identity tied to the signature, and a time stamp. – hszmv Jan 6 at 19:18
  • Any mortgage lender is likely to have a notary handy, so if there are any doubts about your signature, a notary’s stamp along with a little note affirming the identity of the signatory should solve them. Pretty much all the final documents get notarized anyway. – KRyan Jan 7 at 15:30
  • I saw a video years ago of a guy who basically trolled the signature line on his checks to see if they would be accepted. Among his signatures: a simple straight line, a fine gridwork, scribbling the whole line until it was mostly black, a drawing of a farmhouse and trees, the word "SIGNATURE" clearly in block letters, etc. He was never challenged on any of them. – Darrel Hoffman Jan 7 at 15:31

The laws on what constitutes a valid signature vary in different jurisdictions. But in many any sign intended to represent the signer's assent, and generally recognized as having such a meaning, is a legally valid signature. A typed name or initials at the end of an email is now a legal signature in many jurisdictions for many purposes. But if the mark is not known to others as being used to represent your signature, they may not accept its use as indicting an intent to accept the document. Using a more usual form of signature is less likely to cause hassle and contention.


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