Now that we’ve gotten to know each other better, I can tell you about myself and my experience with sign language and why I became involved in the deaf community. It all started with a boy. His name was Ricky and I was in love. I was a sophomore in high school. Ricky was a stud: a great football player and a fabulous baseball player. And he was a charming and good looking young man with a disarming smile. Ricky’s parents were deaf. I had never experienced deafness before. His mom was very sweet to me, and she did everything to make me feel comfortable with her and I having conversations. We would write notes to each other; go through a series of mime kind of gestures, and she began teaching me a few signs. My thought was that it would seal the deal with Ricky if I learned sign language. Well, fast forward to where I am today and, well, Ricky and I never made it. And I am so thankful because I have the best husband in the world and two of the kindest, smartest sons ever. Although Ricky and I didn’t last, my love for sign language deepened and became my livelihood through college and after college, too.
Another important lesson from this story: don’t be afraid to try and talk with a deaf person. Usually, they are very willing to work with you-passing notes, or mime-ing, or even acting out something. They want to be included in your world, so make every effort to not be self conscious and just give it a try. They will know that you are a beginner and they will help you along in your journey to master sign language. When I was first starting out, a group of deaf people would meet me in the cafeteria at CSUN (Northridge) and they would write notes on napkins and do all that they could to make sure that I was learning the signs correctly. They made me feel accepted and they encouraged me along in my journey.
Today we will spend a little time learning signs for feelings. I have already talked about the importance of Non Manual Markers (NMM) to American Sign Language. It is imperative that you incorporate NMMs into your expression of sign language. If you are feeling sick, you don’t want to have a smile on your face, right? That would be somewhat confusing to a deaf person as they are taking in all of you-not just your hands. They are looking at your face, your body movements, your expressions. If you’re feeling fine-sign fine. If you are feeling fantastic, you can sign “FINE” with a really big smile on your face and a waving and emphasis on your sign. Do not be self conscious. It is part of honoring their language that you work to incorporate all the elements of the language and not just using the parts that are comfortable for you.
Quiz: Time answerkey-wk5
I want to take a moment to run through the conversational phrases we have learned, and add to it.
Hello! How are you?
What is your name?
Do you know sign language?
Where were you born?
And the conversational phrase for this week:
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Terrific! You’re learning a lot and we’re only five weeks into it.
Signs we learned this week: a.m. and p.m., review family and family signs (aunt, uncle, cousin, etc.). Fine, sad, happy, depressed. Good and bad. Yes. No. I don’t know. Numbers: 100-1,000
How many times has your mother or father told you “Don’t talk with your mouth full!”….That is not so true in the deaf community. They do not consider it rude to “talk” while they are eating dinner. They can chew and sign at the same time. I remember once seeing a group of deaf people at a Mexican restaurant and the hands were flying. They were eating and signing and enjoying each other’s company. One guy even had a little sour cream on his hand, but that did not seem to hinder the conversation like if we had sour cream in our mouths while we were talking. YUCK. Disgusting.