5 fun FAQ’s about Sign Language

video in Dutch Sign Language, ‘sign-danced’ by Mirjam Stolk

5 fun FAQ’s about Sign Language

My friend Laurien and I work at a school for the Deaf.

A few weeks ago, while sipping tea, she asked me: “Ester, what’s the first question people always ask you about Sign Language?” I said: “Oh, that’s an easy one! ‘Is Sign Language universal?'” And then I would answer: “No it isn’t!” and then they would counter: “Well, that’s dumb!” And I would explain:” Why? Spoken languages aren’t universal either *!” And they would look at me sheepishly…
Laurien chuckled exasperated: “INDEED! That’s what they always ask me TOO!!!”

That’s why I decided to write a post about Sign Language. Just for those who are curious and interested in different cultures.

1)Is Sign Language universal?

Answer: No it isn’t you dummies!@^$!
There are many different Sign Languages. In my country we have Dutch Sign Language (Nederlandse Gebaren Taal or NGT) and in the United States Deaf people and their friends use ASL: American Sign Language.
And here’s the shocker: In Britain, British Sign Language (BSL) is being spoken, but ASL and BSL are NOT mutually understandable!!!
What the heck is THAT for?:
Just think simple: Languages develop in communities living closely together. In the past, NGT even consisted of 5 different dialects! Thanks to webcamming and standardization the dialects sort of blended into each other.

2) But, you mean Sign Languages are REAL languages: they aren’t made up by some scientist-dude or teacher??

Answer: Duh! No, they aren’t.

They developed gradually. “For example: ASL [as well as all other Sign Languages] is a natural language as proven to the satisfaction of the linguistic community by William Stokoe, and contains phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax and pragmatics just like spoken languages.
The language continues to grow and change like any living language. In particular, ASL constantly adds new signs in an attempt to keep up with constantly changing [times and] technology.”#

3) But they DO have the same grammar as spoken languages, don’t they?

Answer: No they don’t, but it’s an interesting question though.
Here’s an example from NGT showing it has a different word order than spoken Dutch:

Ik eet een appel. (I eat an apple) Spoken Dutch

Ik APPEL EET ik (I APPLE EAT I). Dutch Sign Language (NGT)

While spoken languages are produced by the vocal cords  only, and can thus be easily written in linear patterns, ASL uses the hands, head and body, with constantly changing movements and orientations. Like other natural sign languages, it is “three dimensional” in this sense #[or simultaneous grammar instead of linear].

4)If Sign Languages aren’t universal how do deaf people from different countries communicate?

Answer: Good question again! I like curious scholars!
Since Sign Languages are communicated in visual/manual mode instead of auditive/oral, Signers are already very visually oriented and it’s often easier for them to communicate with each other ‘with hands and feet’ than say an Englishman and a Chinese person. Often they also learn another Sign Language, just like we would learn French.
That brings me to the last question that’s often asked:

5)Is it possible to communicate abstract topics like science or maths in Sign Language?

Answer: If you already know Sign Languages are natural, have a grammar of their own and highly developed on their own countries, then you might also guess that Deaf people and their friends want to talk about more than eating apples en can do so very well and fast too.

In this respect it may be helpful to discriminate between 3 types of signs:

“Edward Klima and Ursula Bellugi have modified the common theory that signs can be self-explanatory by grouping signs into the following categories:”#

  1. Transparent: Non-signers can usually correctly guess the meaning (e.g. NGT sign: EAT: making shoving-food-actions towards your mouth)
  2. Translucent: Meaning makes sense to non-signers once it is explained (e.g. NGT: COFFEE: making a coffee-grinder action with your hands)
  3. Opaque: Meaning cannot be guessed by non-signers (e.g. NGT: HOLIDAY: repeating movements with your whole hand near the corner of your mouth)

And if you don’t know the sign, or want to sign names of people and places: you just use the hand alphabet. The Dutch and the American are mainly the same, but for example the one for BSL is different (it is signed with both hands).

admissions.gallaudet.edu

This was my first blogpost on Sign Language. I hoped it satisfied some of your curiosity and I also hope you liked Mirjam Stolk’s sign-dancing video. You can learn more about her on her website.

Let me know if you have any questions or remarks on the topic of Sign Languages or about Deafness.

You can leave a comment on my blog or tweet me at : @E5ter

* A failed attempt at a universal spoken language is called Esperanto.

#Source: Wikipedia.org, text between []-brackets mine.

Declutter your input!

http://www.puur-puravida.nl

All year I have been carrying my ubiquitous capturing tool: my paper notepad everywhere, becoming a ‘Capture‘-ing blackbelt. But something kept nagging at me….

Eventually I noticed my Weekly Review consisted of a lot of Someday Maybe’s related to consumerist wants on the one hand and quotes for blogging on the other, which I was dutifully entering into Evernote and Nozbe. At some point I started losing sight of the bigger picture and didn’t have time to actually complete my Review.

My friends Tara Rodden Robinson and Augusto Pinaud suggested in my fun interview with them on @Context (episode 16) that I could buy an Iphone to make data entering easier. We even joked I would blame them if I eventually couldn’t resist buying one 🙂

…….Bigger – faster – harder – stronger!!!!!!!! was ringing in my ears….my head was spinning..it had to stop!…….

“She said run, but I’m not running no I’m not running.
Let ’em come, let ’em come but I’m not running, no, I ain’t running no more.
No more!” Children 18:3 (@Youtube)……..

It turned out I didn’t need a more sophisticated capturing tool but an other view on what was actually worth capturing at all.
These were Fr. Roderick’s epiphanic words from the Health and Holiness Bootcamp-podcast episode 33 for me:

What is decluttering your life? Getting rid of anything you have in abundance, living a life detached from stuff. Because that can be hampering to living a happier and holier life. I mean, getting to inbox zero is amazing but I wouldn’t trade it in for more important things like family, workout, prayer(…)
Decluttering is also letting go of the desire to be always up to date with everything that happens, constantly mastering the stream of communication, keeping tabs on all that I have.”

I listened to his words, sitting on the side of a canal in Amsterdam, dangling my feet and smelling the Summer air, my eyes unfocusing on the water.
Then and there I decided to slow down and change my ubiquitous capturing to not writing down every detail, every shop I want to visit, every restaurant to remember, every thing I want to have and buy buy buy, but instead go for the quotes and ideas that come up in my creative mind and not to obsess over collecting everything like a teenager keeping pictures of her favorite boyband.

So there it is! Now I am very relieved! But it’s only the first step. I want to set my mind on:

“whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—anything excellent or praiseworthy” (Phillipians 4:8-10)

“Let ’em come, let ’em come but I’m not running, no, I ain’t running no more.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Please leave a comment below or tweet me @E5ter

Be a one girl revolution!

This is a post for all you ladies out there!!!!

Let’s unite, stand together and be strong!

Cuz’ we are smart, beautiful and powerful and we won’t let that nagging voice inside of us tell us otherwise! Or other people for that matter.

We can start a positive revolution right now. We will take over the world in boldness and love.  Confidence in insecurity! We rock!!!

One girl revolution

I wear a disguise
I’m just your average Jane
The super doesn’t stand for model
But that doesn’t mean I’m plain
If all you see is how I look
You miss the super chick within
And I christen you titanic underestimate and swim

(CHORUS)
And I’ll be everything that I wanna be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

Some people see the revolution but most only see the girl
I can lose my hard earned freedom if my fear defines my world
I declare my independence from the critics and their stones
I can find my revolution I can learn to stand alone…

(CHORUS)
And I’ll be everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world…

And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

(And I’m a one girl revolution

I’m a one girl revolution

And I’m a one girl revolution)

(CHORUS)
And I’ll be everything that I wanna be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

Everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

Everything that I want to be
I am confidence in insecurity
I am a voice yet waiting to be heard
I’ll shoot the shot, bang, that you hear round the world

And I’m a one girl revolution
I’m a one girl revolution

Song: One girl revolution – Superchick

Youtubeclip is taken from the 2006 movie Stick it.

If you are a superchick give a shout out below in the comments section or find me on Twitter!