EDUDEAF: "You Have to be Deaf to Understand"

Key Words:Deaf Education Information, Deafness Related Issues, Deaf Culture and History

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Subj: Fwd: ASL Poem for Deaf
Date: 96-12-25 18:03:32 EST
From: JacyHyman@AOL.COM (Jacy Hyman)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)

To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

I wanted to share this ASL poem with you. A Deaf friend of mine sent it to me.

Jacy

Hi Jacy, Something you might like; here's an ASL version of a poem that was circulating:

"You Have to be Deaf to Understand" (by Willard J. Madsen)

What like hand signing?
You have deaf understand!

What like small child,
In school, in room void sound -
With teacher who talks talks talks
Then teacher looks at you,
She expects you know what she said?
You have deaf understand.

Teacher thinks makes you smart,
First you must learn how talk your voice;
Mumbo-Jumbo hands on your face hours and hours
Struggled until little voice?
You have deaf understand.

What like curious,
Thirst for knowledge you can tell your own,
Inner desire that set on fire -
You ask brother, sister, or friend
And says, "Not important."
You have deaf understand.

What like corner stand,
Though there nothing wrong,
Than try make use your hands
Silent peer communicate when
Your mind something appears?
You have deaf understand.

What like person shouted,
Thinks that will help you hear;
Or misunderstand words from friend
Who trying to make joke clear,
And you don't understand because he failed?
You have deaf understand.

What like laughed at you
When you try repeat what said;
Just make sure that clear
But words misread and you want
cry out, "Please help me friend!"
You have deaf understand.

What like depend hearing person,
Phone for me company or business
and must tell what your personal privacy
Then you find that your info wrong?
You have deaf understand.

What like deaf and alone,
In group hearing and you only guess
And go along, no one there with help
Interpreting, you try keep up follow?
You have deaf understand.

What like on road life meet stranger,
Who opens his mouth & speaks fast out
Line and you can't see his face nothing
Understand because new and you lost?
You have deaf understand.

What like understand hands sign,
Show clear pictures make feel you
Satisfied and smile that connect
(join me and you) world?
You have deaf understand.

What like hand signing?
Yes, you have deaf understand!

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Subj: ASL Poem for Deaf
Date: 96-12-28 04:38:08 EST
From: habla@PERTH.DIALIX.OZ.AU (Harry Blackmore)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

Jacy Hyman (25 Dec 1996) posted an ASL poem entitled "You have to be Deaf to Understand" (by Willard J. Madsden).

While I acknowledge the value of conveying the difference in grammar and syntactical structure of Sign Language in this way, perhaps to impress this fact on the uninformed English-speaking hearing person and, perhaps, to enable any signing deaf person to read it and sign therefrom as a deaf signer might, I confess that such demonstrations worry me somewhat. I've thought about this over the past few days, and I felt I should seek other views - perhaps I am idiosyncratic in outlook and needlessly concerned.

One of my concerns is that such attempts to "translate" another language into a form of pidgin English may have the counter-productive effect of incurring denigration and mockery of the other language. This is often a problem in the attitude of many hearing people who are not convinced that Sign Language (ASL in USA, Auslan in Australia, etc.) is a valid language in its own right.

Another concern I have is that such "anglicising" of Sign Language cannot demonstrate the necessary accompanying body-language which extends the vocabulary of Sign in a way that cannot be shown by static pictures in a dictionary nor by words on a page. This is the reason why many hearing people entertain the misconception that Sign Language has a very limited vocabulary.

Perhaps, as I said, I am misguided and others may hasten to correct me. I would be glad to hear other views on this matter.

Finally, I admire the touching sentiments vividly portrayed so well in this poem but, since it was posted on this discussion list, I wonder how others may feel about an apparently increasing trend to "anglicise" Sign Language in this way.

Harry Blackmore -

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Subj: Re: ASL Poem for Deaf
Date: 96-12-30 12:29:32 EST
From: BradIngrao@AOL.COM (Brad Ingrao)
Sender: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)
Reply-to: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education)

To: EDUDEAF@LSV.UKY.EDU (Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF)

In a message dated 96-12-28 04:38:08 EST, you write:

<< I wonder how others may feel about an apparently increasing trend to "anglicise" Sign Language in this way. >>

I agree with Harry. Poems are meant to be expressed in the expressive version of the language in which they were written. When appropriate, they should be *translated* not *transliterated*. Perhaps a better way to post Sign poetry would be to provide an accurate ceptual translation (VERY difficult). I have given up trying to do this.

Brad Ingrao

Uploaded by B.J. Lawrence / Kent State University / Deaf Education Major