Happy 1st birthday to Colin! We bought you a really awesome present to celebrate– a house! Hope you like it.
This is our new house! We love this little place and all the neighbors we have meet so far. We are waist deep in projects to get this house the way we want it, but it seems like a perfect fit for us. I’ll be posting before and after pictures of all the work we do on it so stay tuned.
As most of you know (and for those who don’t), I am an American Sign Language interpreter. I graduated from UVU in Deaf Studies and have studied American Sign Language and Deaf culture for 11 years now. I absolutely love what I do, and have put countless hours into trying to improve my skills and understanding of the language. Ever since I started down this career path I have noticed that I elicit one of five reactions from people when I tell them what I do. Here’s a little breakdown of comments I get (rough estimate):
20% of people reply with polite comments like “that’s cool” or “interesting” and conversation questions like “what got you into that?” That’s appropriate.
10% of people will tell me that they know an interpreter or a deaf person and ask if I know them. I always love to see if there are any random connections out there so that’s cool.
5% of people assume that I know how to read Braille. SERIOUSLY?!
5% of people flail their hands and arms around wildly and then ask me what they just said. Completely offensive and annoying.
60% of people tell me they know sign language too, then they excitedly to show me the 5 signs they know. Single college guys tend to know something along the lines of “Will you make out with me.” If I’m talking to a mother with young children they show me the signs for MORE, MILK, ALL DONE, and other “baby signs” they know from watching Signing Time.
I am terribly sorry, but knowing a handful of signs does not equate to knowing American Sign Language. This is equivalent to telling people that you know Spanish because you watch “Go, Diego, Go!”
I think the reason that people claim to know ASL, when they only know a handful of short phrases, is there are a lot of misunderstandings and myths in regards to American Sign Language (and other signed languages throughout the world). I could write a long detailed post to explain away these misunderstandings but, to be brief I will just clarify just two of the biggest.
1. American Sign Language is language equally complex as any spoken language. It is linguistically complete with grammatical rules, morphemes, syntax, phonemes, and can express complex and abstract ideas. It has everything that makes a language a language. It is not a simplified version of English on your hands.
2. Just as there is no universal spoken language, there is no universal sign language. American Sign Language developed naturally as did any spoken language. It wasn’t just invented by someone and then taught to the deaf.
Sorry for the rant and if any of you have given me the responses that I just criticized, it’s OK. I still love you. You probably have had little or, more likely, no contact with deaf people. (And if you have, shame on you.)