First time for everything

Today was the first time I met a random hearing signer. It was an interesting experience. This person is apparently… well, my Deaf friend signed to me that this person’s, well…. ‘slow’. I’ve heard speech from such a person, but I’d never seen such signing before. It was sort of hard to understand. But hey, a new experience.

It’s been a while since I’ve been signing with someone that had to be fingerspelling because they didn’t know the sign for something, and not because I didn’t.

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7 Responses to First time for everything

  1. read.robin says:

    Interesting how that translates across languages – from counting words to fingerspelling. I guess letters are the building blocks of JSL while words are the building blocks of speech?

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    • kenliano says:

      No, fingerspelling is a way to represent the letters of spoken languages and their written counterparts. It’s often done by people who don’t know the sign for something. But there are concepts that are fingerspelt, though, for example, one of the signs for ‘all’ is to spell A-L-L.

      The building blocks of a sign are: handshape, location of the sign, orientation of the sign (which direction the palm is facing), nonmanuals (anything from raising eyebrows to kicking out your foot), and (for some linguists) movement.

      So, the sign for “deaf”: a finger at the corner of the mouth, then moves close to the ear. To represent the English word, you spell D-E-A-F. But the spelling is not a component of the sign. In fact, sometimes Deaf will know the signs, but not the fingerspelling, especially if the Deaf is illiterate.

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    • kenliano says:

      The fingerspelling was because the person hearing and is learning JSL, not 100% fluent.

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