|Volume 1, Issue 27||
A Canadian questions a sign for CANADA
In a message dated 8/18/2005 11:23:50 AM Pacific Daylight Time, graciea@_____.com writes:
I love your "apples" demo. Excellent work!
You have the right idea on all the facial expressions.
The only thing I might mention (in case you didn't know) is that the sign "HOW-MANY" moves a bit upward, whereas the sign MANY moves forward slightly.
Thanks for sharing that variation of the sign for Canada. It seems to me that somewhere in the recesses of my brain I can recall having seen that sign once. But then, I don't watch Canadian TV.
I wouldn't label something as Signed English just because it is "initialized." Many people have that reaction, but if every initialized sign were eliminated we would lose many very common ASL signs like "FAMILY." If I happen to come across a different sign for Canada or find out more information on signs for Canada done by Deaf Canadians I'll post it to my website under "Canada."
The two-handed sign for ASK vs the index finger sign for ASK
In a message dated 8/24/2005 4:16:14 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, @goeaston.net writes:
These are two different signs. Each has it's own meanings and usage.
I've actually seen the sign REQUEST used to mean "pretty please." For example, "John" might ask Mary for a favor. Then as she is thinking about it, John does the sign "request" and holds it with a pleading look on his face. The sign REQUEST, when done with a double movement, can mean "pray" or "plead with."
The sign ASK-TO is not used in that manner.
In the sentences you listed if you used the sign ASK-TO the meaning would be "casual and straightforward." If you used the sign REQUEST the meaning would be more serious, formal, or pleading.
Additionally, the sign REQUEST, can done at the end of a prayer to mean "amen." ("REQUEST" is one of four popular ways to sign AMEN.)
ahh, the lightbulb is starting to flicker - so if I said "when I go to work I will ask for time off" that would be 2 hands? But if I said "the boys were wild so I asked them to leave" it would be one hand?
Telling someone that you are going to seek time off work would indeed lean toward using the sign REQUEST rather than the sign ASK-TO. It could go either way though depending on the relationship between the employee and the boss, the level of confidence of the employee, the difficulty of the process of asking (while passing in the hall or while sitting down in the boss's office).
Now, your second sentence would actually use the sign "TOLD." You are using a hearing euphemism. "I asked them to leave" is a polite Hearing way of saying that you told them to leave. In ASL we are more direct. You wouldn't inform your friend that you asked two rowdy boys to leave. You'd inform your friend that you told two rowdy boys to leave. You did not really ask them did you? You did not have your eyebrows up in a yes / no question expression as you "asked them to leave." You did not wait at the end of your sentence for them to reply "yes, no, or we'll think about it." Instead you had your face in a stern facial expression with tight lips and a furrowed brow and you told them leave.
oh, wow... you've given me allot to
think about - it's really hard to think of those things when I'm signing to my
friend in conversational English... I'm concentrating on the signs rather than
the concept... of course she understands what I'm trying to say, but I wish I
could get it right. It's hard when I only spend an hour here or there with her,
every few days... thanks again for all the time you've taken to explain to me.
Teaching and testing dyslexic ASL students:
In a message dated 8/23/2005 4:01:36 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, signingcs3@______ writes:
I have had a number of dyslexic students in my classes over the years.
In general I recommend:
Use "proficiency-based" grading rather than "achievement-based." What I mean by that is for you to judge him on whether he can perform certain functions in the language such as introducing himself, discussing his family, making requests, responding to requests--rather than grading him on having memorized pre-specified stories, sentences, signs, or grammar rules.
Along with this, consider "portfolio based" grading. The point of a beginning language class is to expose students to new cultures, alternate ways of thinking, and give them a taste for the language to see if they might actually have an affinity for it. These goals lend themselves to portfolio development. He could develop a video portfolio over a period of time. Various video clips could be organized onto a CD or DVD, thus demonstrating his knowledge and skills in the second language. Within a few years of taking a language class, most students have forgotten almost everything they learned.
The idea of stretching two semesters to two years is an excellent idea depending on the grading system. A "cumulative" approach to testing would be made worse by stretching out the course. If you are not in a "use it" environment you will "lose it." The student would have to constantly be reviewing the material over the two year period. While this would be helpful in terms of the student developing a genuine understanding of the language, it would be a much bigger investment in time for both the student and the proctor.
Yes, you are right, as my curriculum currently stands, the later lessons contain fewer cultural and historical components. That is a temporary situation. I will be adding more components as time goes on. (Just not enough hours in the day, eh?).
What I recommend for now is to use various "library" topics (posted under the "library" heading at Lifeprint.com) to flesh out the later lessons.
Just so you will know...I am constantly updating the curriculum. Currently I'm working on making room for what I call "response vocabulary" to all of the lessons. Additionally I will add many readings quizzes.
Take care, cordially,
Zambia--the Kettson Kunda Project
Dear ASL Heroes,
How do you sign "St. Patrick's Day?"
In a message dated 8/25/2005 2:38:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, dayshune24@___.com writes:
I want to know how you sign St. Patrick's Day or you just spell S-T
The most widespread sign I've seen for St. Patrick's day is to twist a bent "V" hand on the upper arm area and then sign or spell "day." The twisting movement represents "pinching" someone who is not wearing green.
Philadelphia Interpreter Questions Cuing
In a message dated 8/28/2005 8:04:36 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, mnmcannon@.net writes:
I stumbled onto your website this evening while looking up information about teaching sign language to recovering stroke patients.
I started interpreting in 1984, graduating from the second (!) ITP class at Phoenix College in Phoenix, AZ . I still love my work.
We moved to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area from Arizona (I know, I know) about 9 years ago. One of the things that I found is a huge regional variation in signs from West to East. People tell me that Philadelphia signs are even more unique, due largely in part to the older Deaf population in the area who were educated at the PA School for the Deaf. (I have found, though, that Philadelphians like to consider themselves unique in just about everything.)
I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop that taught the basics of cued speech. Usually one to scorn what I consider to be fads, I was convinced to go because the presenter was also an interpreter. I needed to put in some time for my employer, and, I reasoned, it couldn't hurt. The presenter was based in the Washington, D.C./Gallaudet area and had a long list of credentials behind her name. She told us that she was in charge of the 'cuing' students and their transliterators in the school district where she was employed. Revelation number one: Never having seen a transliterator at work, I asked if one could stand in front of a classroom and cue as fast as I could interpret. She assured me that not only was it possible, but happened every day.
I asked her just how prevalent cuing was and how well it was accepted in the Deaf community. Her response indicated that there are cuers all over the United States, and that the Deaf community, especially at Gallaudet, is very accepting of cued speech because not all Gallaudet students sign and therefore embrace many communication modalities.
In the twenty-some years that I have been working as an interpreter, I have never seen anyone utilizing cued speech. Is this because most of my experience has been in the California-influenced half of the U.S. with its strong ASL bias, or has cued speech actually become an 'accepted' means of communication across the nation and I've just missed the boat?
All the best--
There are indeed a "considerable" number of cuers out there. But they are still a very small minority in the Deaf Community.
Here is a simple method to help you get a feel for the situation:
Using quotes, type "cued speech" into Google.com and you will get around 36,800 hits.
Type "American Sign Language" into Google and you get 621,000 hits.
Type "sign language" into Google and you get 3,390,000 hits.
Deaf in one ear and can't hear too good out of the other:
In a message dated 8/9/2005 7:18:05 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, DJ3262 writes:
Hey Dr. Vicars,
How to take a "fall" in ASL:
In a message dated 8/31/2005 9:27:21 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, momme89@ writes:
FALL-[non-dominant hand (ndh) palm up] = Fall (in general).
FALL-[non-dominant hand (ndh) palm down] = Fall (from a specified surface or location).
The FALL-[ndh-palm down] sign requires prior establishment of what it is you are falling off of.
Which is to say, it feels funny (not right) to sign FALL-[ndh-palm down] without my having first told you where I was standing.
Here is an example of appropriate "FALL" usage.
YOU: WOW HAPPEN-(wh)? (What happened to you!?!)
ME: YESTERDAY FALL-[ndh-palm up] ME (I took a fall yesterday)
YOU: OH-I-SEE, RIGHT! YOU HIKE YOU. (Oh that's right, you went hiking!)
ME: YES, KNOW W-I-D-O-W P-E-A-K? (Yeah. Are you familiar with Widow's Peak?)
YOU: [nod] YES
ME: [Use classifier "B" hands to describe the shape of a steep hill.) I STAND-(Classifier "V" at top of hill)-[ndh palm down]. FALL-[ndh-palm down] [Use classifier "V" to show tumbling movement.]
A factor influencing the choice of "palm up" or "palm down" has to do with the amount of context that has been or needs to be established during the conversation. The palm down version of FALL is typically inflected to carry more information that the palm up version. For example "FALL-from high place" "FALL from sloping surface" etc. Thus we will tend to use FALL-[ndh palm down] during the first stages of the conversation to establish context.
Later, after the listener has a firm grasp of the context of the fall, (how high was it, the slope of the ground, whether the surface was moving), the signer may decrease the use of the specific FALL-[ndh-palm down] sign and use the more general FALL-[ndh-palm up] sign because there is a reduced need for such contextual details since the details were established earlier in the conversation. The reverse can also be true. Perhaps at first the signer is not interested in providing many details. He may simply use the palm up version. But then the listener asks for more specifics. As the signer becomes more specific he will tend to use the FALL-[ndh-palm down] version to convey additional details.
Another factor has to do with the "ergonomics of signing." Suppose a person is describing a complex scenario and has established referents on both the left and right hand sides of the signing area. That person might tend to use the palm down version of FALL when signing in right half of the signing space simply because it is more comfortable on the wrist.
Take care, cordially,
Is being Deaf an excuse for rudeness?
In a message dated 8/2/2005 3:32:57 PM Pacific Daylight Time, A student @scu.edu writes:
Hi Dr. Bill.
Within the Deaf Community there are polite people and there are rude people. There are people who are fun to be around because they find the best in others. There are toxic individuals who make others around them sick by their very presence.
While it is true that those of us in the Deaf Community tend to be much more direct in our communication, that doesn't give us license to hurt others without regard to their feelings. Directness and rudeness are two different things. The other day I was at church and a friend named Walter mentioned that I should iron my shirt. It had been a busy week and the only dress shirt I had was one that I didn't get out of the dryer in time. I wore it anyway and figured it wasn't "that" noticeable. Well, apparently the wrinkles were noticeable and he mentioned it to me similar to the way a father would mention untied shoe laces to his child. There was no malice--it was simply information being shared.
On the other hand if he mentioned it twice during the same meeting...or if he started pointing it out to others, or if he added a comment like "looks stupid" -- then his behavior would have been "rude."
When you are in the Deaf Community would you like your Deaf friend to point out cultural rules? If you were being rude, would you like him to "educate" you so you could better get along with his friends?
If that is the case, then I suggest to you it works both ways. If he truly is your friend, and a decent person, he will not desire to hurt the feelings of your hearing friends any more that you would wish to hurt his Deaf friends.
If you are close enough to him to have built up a bond of respect and trust it is certainly proper to "educate" your friend regarding your culture.
As a hearing person though...you must be aware that there exists an awesome and terrible imbalance of socioeconomic power between our two cultures. If Superman and a normal man were to both yell their opinion...the normal man's would be lost as an insignificant whisper amidst the overwhelming volume of the man of steel. That doesn't mean one opinion is right and the other is wrong. They are, after all, just opinions.
You are striving to become bicultural (aware of and respectful of two cultures).
Is your friend also striving to become "bicultural?" If so...there is no reason for him to go throughout his life offending others (of any culture) and claiming that it is okay because he is Deaf.
In a message dated 8/3/2005 12:56:52 PM Pacific Daylight Time, email@example.com writes:
Very good point! Yes I do try to tell my friend what is acceptable in hearing culture. Of course, we both enjoy a bit of "gossip" about strangers. I hope they don't understand sign! (blush.)
Throughout your relationship this should not happen more than a few times. Especially if you are letting him know how his statements affect others.
If he persists in such behavior, then I'd say your friend has issues beyond those covered by cultural differences.
Orangeburg, South Carolina Woman wants to get certified:
In a message dated 8/31/2005 9:22:57 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, kizzie@______ writes:
Check with your State's Division of Occupational Licensing. Ask them what organization runs your state's interpreter certification program.
If that doesn't work. Check www.RID.org and seek out your state's chapter of Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf then ask them for local information.
How to Access the ASLpah Archives:
In a message dated 8/31/2005 3:48:45 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Anna writes:
I didn't receive your newsletter (it was blank). Can u pls resend.
Visit: http://aslpah.com/mainframe.htm and scroll down the left side under "ARCHIVES" until you get to the last one (#25) then click on it and you'll see the newsletter. Any problems...let me know.
Choosing a Thesis Question:
Recently I responded to a terrific friend of mine who is currently formulating a thesis question. This was my advice:
1. You are passionate about
2. Can later transform into a relatively high selling book.
3. Can become a good presentation topic for which people will pay you gobs of money to lecture on.
4. Doesn't cost an arm and a leg to research. For example, some people decide to conduct research that involves conducting a number of surveys at various locations or interviewing certain groups of people. That sounds great until you factor in the cost of travel. You want to pick something that you can research for free. Save the expensive "travel-based" research for later as something to do "on the side" when you are being paid to travel and lecture on your original research. You fly someplace, lecture, get paid, then stay an extra day or two to research your "next" book.
It really helps to start with the end in mind and work backward toward your topic. I just remember seeing so many students in my MA/Ed.D program pick topics that were easy, fun, or interesting on the surface, but later turned out to be uninspiring, short-lived, inapplicable, and relegated to gathering dust on a shelf. It is much better to search out an ongoing need that exists in the community--one that you are passionate about and would love to study independent of the thesis requirement. In so doing you end up helping other people, improving your financial situation, having fun, becoming smart(er), and completing your school assignment.
<<In a message dated 8/19/2005 5:12:45 AM Pacific Daylight Time, lwilt@ writes:
hi, Bill - I haven't bothered you in a long time...smile...but I've got a quick question for you... I saw a woman signing and she was saying 'I don't think so' by putting her 'one' finger to her cheek and then swinging it palm-out... sort of like 'don't mind' but on the cheek instead of the nose. Is that an actual sign or is it her way of doing it, instead of on the forehead?
Hope you're having a great summer! It's flying by so fast!
When I sign the phrase "I don't think so" I just touch the tip of my index finger to the side of my forehead while shaking my head and scrunching my face a bit. I don't add any sort of sign to indicate "so." When I'm signing casually I might do that sign off the cheek. So I think your friend is doing an actual sign for "don't think so."
I doubt she is using an actual "reversal of orientation" to establish negation. While that is common for the sign "don't know," I haven't seen any widespread usage of "reversal of orientation" for the sign "I don't think so."
Sure, there is a "possibility" that the woman is indeed reversing the sign on purpose, but the "swinging palm out" movement you describe, is probably just "movement epenthesis." Movement epenthesis is the movement of your hand "in between" signs. She might be swinging her hand out to a neutral position, or just thinking hard and not paying attention to what her hand is doing. If you see others in your area doing the same variation, or if you find out more information about that sign, please do let me know.
Dr. Estes not alone in wishing for lab time
In a message dated 8/22/2005 2:13:39 PM Pacific Daylight Time, cestes@_____.k12.ca.us writes:
You are welcome to require homework from my website.
I know how you feel about wanting lab time for your students. We don't have that at Sac State yet either.
I'm working on setting up a series of online study activities that end with quizzes. But here's the kick...there will be 40 versions of the same quiz. Heh...each student will do a slightly different version of the quiz so that they would have to do their own work instead of copying from their friend.
I'm really having a ball with this online stuff. When I get the quizzes set up I'll certainly announce it in my newsletter. Plus, within a month or so I'll have my new workbooks ready to post for (free) download. I'm developing them now. Thanks to your request I'll consider how they might also serve as "lab time." Neat idea. The ASL classes here are hosted from the Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology.
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