I have a love-hate relationship with the JSL manual alphabet. Sometimes, there’s more hate than love, to be honest.
Recently, I found out something that has radically changed my perception of fingerspelling. My friend told me that hearing people tend to spell every single letter in a word, while Deaf people (including CODAs) dropping letters; shorthand/rapid fingerspelling.
This revelation is important for more than one reason:
- I used to think that, in my reading/reception of fingerspelling, I missed letters solely because of my inability to pick up the letters sent out at Deaf speed. Now, I see that’s not the case.
- Over the years, I found myself doing exactly that; skipping/dropping letters. And I almost always start over when I’m spelling. Now, I see that I don’t have to. It’s part of how people spell in JSL.
This info will be useful not only in my conversations with Deaf people, but also in my interpreting. I really wish these things had been taught to be during my training to be an interpreter. Jamaica has a long way to go in terms of proper JSL teaching and JSL interpreter training.