A Request: One Love in Sign Language

At church today, someone told me that he’s thinking of doing a performance for the Family Fun Show, a talent-show kind of event that we have during the Feast of Tabernacles. He wants to have a group of people signing Bob Marley’s One Love, and asked me if I can help to make sure it goes well, that the signs are accurate. The conversation was fairly interesting.

Basically, I told him I would. And then, he said he’d be doing ASL, not JSL, which makes sense, since most of the people in the congregation would be Americans, but more technically, it makes no difference since most of them wouldn’t know the difference between ASL, JSL or Signed English. So, whatever. I guess it’s because, even among hearing Jamaicans who want to learn sign language, it’s ASL that they tend to find (online, etc.), and thus learn. I dunno how much I can help, since JSL’s what I learnt in university.

And it was then that I said, “One thing I don’t like, though, is that people only use sign language to perform songs.”

“So, why don’t you do something else with it, like sign a poem or something?”

“Well, when you translate something like a poem, it loses the poetics of the original language. And then, even if I could write a JSL poem and then go up and perform it [at church, or other such event], who would understand it?”

He commented that I take these things seriously, and not into doing things just for performance’s sake. Well, I guess I take these things seriously for real. I just don’t really see the point of performing something in a language that the audience wouldn’t understand. I mean, in theory, I wouldn’t have a problem with signing a that’s being played/sung. But I’m not all that interested in Signed English, so I’d have to translate it into JSL, and I really don’t like the gloves thing, and that’s what people seem to be entertained by, so….

I guess it probably wouldn’t be all that entertaining to people. It does feel kind of pointless to me, though. Like someone going up to the crowd/congregation and then addressing them in Amharic. But that’s just me.

Anyway, the song’s a very nice, feel-good song, perfectly in tune with the concept of Fun Show that my pastor envisioned. I’m sure it would be great entertainment for the Americans. And I’ll help any way I can; except going up there myself.

One Love


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4 Responses to A Request: One Love in Sign Language

  1. read.robin says:

    Sign language in church is still mostly about fancy hand movements, sadly, but there can be a lot of emotion behind the performances – especially for the performers. It reminds me a bit of opera, you know, how most people don’t speak Italian but they can still be moved by a good aria.



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