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Re: Some thoughts on mutli-modal (signing / speech) languages and communication.

From:Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Date:Monday, February 9, 2009, 7:48
1. "Hypothetical" singing communities?

Surely you know that there exist plenty actual such - both dispersedly
in any urban area, and quite concentratedly and persistently at Deaf
schools like Gallaudet.

I imagine that any practical issue - like chairs - has been completely
addressed by them by now.

2. You missed one problem with voice: the glass problem.

There are times - granted, this is extremely modern - when you're
separated by sound-proof or mostly sound-proof glass.

E.g. being inside vs outside a bus; two sides of a prison visitation
chamber; inside vs outside a car; one car to another; a helmet-wearing
motorcyclist to anyone; or even an iPod user to anyone. ;-)

I've had a couple of these happen, and found signing to be very
helpful (where otherwise e.g. I'd have to take my helmet off, get out
of a car, make them stop their music player, or the like).

Alas, currently there's only one sign that's particularly well
recognized for driver-to-driver communication...

3. Another ?problem: the monomodality problem.

At LCC2, David Peterson and I had a couple times where we were on
different sides of the room while a presentation was going on, and
wanted to communicate something. We used ASL, quite effectively - no
need to cross the room (and thus the sightline of the audience),
interrupt anyone, etc.

Conversely, I've been in signing-primary situations where ASL was used
quite effectively to communicate across the room without disrupting
any conversations.

Thus, IMO the very fact of knowing two modalities is very helpful.

4. Pragmatically re old tired drunk signers: I've personally had
conversations with such, and they were perfectly able to communicate,
just as much as any drunken hearing person.

IME the only really tiring parts of ASL are fingerspellings - and that
because it's dependent on major motions of small muscles.

Most signs are dependent only on quite robust muscles. Practically
speaking, I've never seen someone get tired unless they were an
interpreter and thus talking basically nonstop (esp. with lots of
fingerspelling from translating names and jargon terms).

- Sai


Sai Emrys <saizai@...>
Parker Glynn-Adey <parkerglynnadey@...>