forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Cecelia Smith
Date:  Thu May 20, 1999  7:05 am
Subject:  Re: is it ASL or MIME?

In a message dated 5/20/99 12:06:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time,

> I have noticed that Deaf people have no problems talking about
> the parts of an automobile without any formal instruction in vocabulary
> of ASL

Actually, this just means that they are fluent in their language. I have had
no formal instruction in the correct English vocabulary to use for parts of
an automobile, but am able to hold a conversation about it. <smile>

What I have noticed is that hearing people who have learned ASL have
difficulty having such a discussion because they are not as likely to be
fluent in the language.

What was originally posited was that people don't really need to know if
there is a specific sign for something, because (for example) if you know
how a car works and you are fluent in ASL, you can get the point across.
Well, yeah.. that is true. ALL languages work that way. If I am fluent in
English, (which I am) but don't know the name for the thingamajig wtih 2
wheels, one larger than the other, connected by a rubber belt, right in the
front of the engine.... I can describe it anyway. That is what typically
happens in situations where an interpreter is a fluent user of ASL but has a
limited vocabulary in specific areas. Instead of using the proper term, they
either describe what they mean or they invent a sign. Describing what they
mean is acceptable. Inventing a sign only marginally so. Especially when
there are resources available like NTID that can help with providing the
correct terminology. If someone interprets a specific type of class on a
regular basis (such as automotive technology, chemistry, biology, math,
calculus.. whatever) that person owes it to their clients to provide accurate
interpretation and proper language usage. I know. I have made tremendous
use of RID resources, NAD, and NTID. And I describe a lot and I have been
known to "invent" for the sake of a single class until I was able to get
information from others.

This is one area where I think SignWriting will be most benificial, and NTID
obviously agrees.. and that is in the documentation of specific signs used in
specialty areas. SignWriting provides a very clear, very recognizable way to
show what a sign is, and the more specialty dictionaries that can be written
utilizing sign writing the better.

For me, I have to memorize the signs, until I have learned them and they
become part of my lexicon. It is the same with English. When I encounter a
new word, I memorize it, and use it until it is a part of my lexicon. Then
it is simply another tool that I can use when I need it. SignWriting helps
me learn the signs easily, so that I can memorize how they look, until I have
used it often enough that I "have" it.

It's 3 am. I'm starting to ramble.......


Cecelia Smith

  Replies Author Date
1325 Re: is it ASL or MIME? Valerie Sutton Thu  5/20/1999
1327 Re: is it ASL or MIME? Ronald H Dettloff Thu  5/20/1999
1329 Re: is it ASL or MIME? Ronald H Dettloff Thu  5/20/1999
1331 Re: is it ASL or MIME? Cecelia Smith Thu  5/20/1999
1333 Tech Signs Dictionary Valerie Sutton Fri  5/21/1999
1350 Re: is it ASL or MIME? Judy A. Kegl Thu  5/27/1999

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