Monday, July 19, 2010

Formspring Q & A #11

This didn't come from Formspring...rather, the question was posted as a comment in my Formspring Q & A #8 post. In that post, I was asked "When did you learn how to sign?" and I answered with "When I was 25 years old."

This prompted Shelle BlokThoughts to ask "Why did you start to learn? Especially after all that time?"

Here's my short answer - I didn't want to learn until then.

Here's my medium answer - I didn't want to take the easy way out and thought I was doing fine as is.

Here's my long answer - I went to a school for the deaf where emphasis was placed on oral communication (meaning speech and lipreading) instead of using sign language or total communication (combining both oral and signing).

Here's my long, long answer - Because I learned in that environment, I developed a bias for those who eschewed oral communication for either sign language or total communication. I thought that they were taking the easy way out to communicate with other people. I even thought that using sign language harmed their ability to communicate clearly in English. I had met a few who couldn't speak at all and/or lipread and their grasp of English was...atrocious. They didn't attend the same school, hence my ignorance.

So...why did I learn at all? I, at first, viewed this as a challenge to learn a new language - I even thought learning it would be a snap because I discovered that I have an ability to mimic what I see perfectly. I learned that ASL (American Sign Language) is in fact a whole language that comes with its own syntax and grammar...just like Chinese, Spanish, German, etc. I was even surprised to discover a whole different set of customs and culture within ASL. I didn't learn everything within a year...I am still learning and I am loving it.

When I visited my uncle for the first time in more than a decade, he was surprised to see that I had learned sign language. The last time I visited, I had been using sign language only few years and there was nobody around who knew how to communicate in sign language, so I had no reason to tell him that. My uncle was mesmerized by how I could silently communicate every word, thought, and emotion to my wife and all of that would come out of her mouth as she translated ("interpreted" is the better word) for me. He understood my speech clearly enough, but he was just utterly fascinated with this. ;)

What did I take away from all of this? I learned a lot about myself, picked up a bunch of great friends, and gained a wife. ;)


nitebyrd said...

I would think that knowing ASL would be like being bi-lingual. You'd have the advantage to communicate with more people. It's also very beautiful to watch someone sign. It's a very graceful yet animated way to "talk".

Alex said...

I agree with nitebyrd. I believe knowing ASL means you are bi-lingual. I've always believed that.

I like watching you sign and had loads of fun learning from you. Unfortunately, I don't remember even HALF of what you showed me lmao. You'll have to teach me again ;)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

sweet. Love when you answer my questions! You rock! ASL is mesmerizing!

handstowar said...

Knowing sign language is just a cool thing to know. I happen to know a minimal amount (the alphabet, curse words, etc.) but it helps in moments where I want to tell my wife something (she's knows minimally as well) without anyone else knowing what we're talking about! :)

SMS The Job said...

i like d way you present your post.....

DCHY said...

Nitebyrd - you have no idea how versatile sign language is! You can communicate through bulletproof windows, from 6 floors up, underwater, in noisy environments, etc. LOL You're right, I am bi-lingual now.

Alex - yup, I had fun teaching you signs. ;)

Shelle - thank you. Keep asking me more questions so I can rock some more. Hehe

Handstowar - you know exactly how useful that is! LOL

SMS The Job - thank feel free to come back and comment more on my future posts. ;)

Becky said...

Nice post today. Interesting and have the short, long, very long answers to many things related to blindness too. You and your wife sound like you have a beautiful relationship.

DCHY said...

Becky - thank you very much. I am interested in what you have to say on your blog. Thanks for commenting.