I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Read My Hands!

 
Photobucket

It wasn't easy, but I'm finally able to say the alphabet fluently, without any mistakes! I've also cracked the days of the week, how to say hello and how to spell out my name. I can also ask a couple of basic, polite questions. Now there's no stopping me!

No, I'm not deaf, but I've decided to study sign language, which has always fascinated me. It's been on my list of "things to do" for a long time. I'm not saying that I'm going to become completely fluent, but I want to know enough for basic communication with a deaf person. What's prompted me to make a move on this? - the same thing that got me started on French back in 1994, when I was 26. I was on holiday and met some really nice people, but I couldn't talk to them. We could only smile and nod. I knew they were people I would click with, but there was no way of crossing the language barrier. I decided that I didn't want to be stuck with just one mode of communication for the rest of my life and so began to learn French ... not knowing then of course that it would totally consume me and I would eventually move here and settle for a French life!

I've often met deaf people and felt hopeless; again, there's just been that smiling and nodding. Now I will at least be able to say something. I'm learning British Sign Language (BSL), on my own at first, but I would like to do some kind of course as well. Don't forget that there are many different kinds of sign language, depending on where you live. At least 250,000 people use BSL, which was only recognised by the British government as an official language in 2003!

I love watching people sign with each other. I think there is such unique beauty in the movements and the expressions, and it's definitely something I want to experience. To see how signing can be just as powerful as the spoken word, take a look at this woman signing along to the song The Rose: (click twice on the play button)

25 comments:

moonrat said...

you know what's just a little bit frustrating, though? if i were to learn ASL, you and i would still have no idea what the other was signing!! too bad there can't be a magical universal sign language that people of all nations could learn. then we wouldn't have to study foreign languages.

Shameless said...

Moonrat - yes, and that's a real shame! I was surprised to see that virutally every country has their own sign language. I may take a look at the French version as well, just to see if there is anything similar, especially as I live here. In New Zealand, the sign language (NZSL) seems to be very close to BSL. I wonder if anyone has thought of developing USL (universal sign language). :-)

Marja said...

That's absolutely great that you take the effort to do that. The deaf community here in Christchurch was a lot in the news in Christchurch because Emma a 20 year old deaf girl disappeared and was found dead later. The deaf community is very close probably because they are dependent on each other.

I love the french language. it is like music. I only had one year at school. i would love to learn more
but it is on my low priority list.
English was easy to learn because dutch and english are family, like French and spanish.

Wayne said...

And you know what the most amazing thing of all is, Seamus? How you managed to take that picture of your hands with the camera in your mouth, and clicking down on the shutter button with your tongue.

Nothingman said...

Nice that you are learning this...

but you know there are universal sign language symbols, there are just a few of them but i'm sure they are understood all over ;)

Lane said...

This is great and well done you.
Just yesterday my daughter was showing me some colour signs she'd learnt in class (there was a deaf visitor). A quick look on google shows completely different signs. Confusing.
Good luck with learning your new skill:-)

Shameless said...

Marja - Yes, I read about that terrible story ... and the chaotic scenes at court when the accused appeared. I learnt that when people sign above their heads, it means they're yelling!

Wayne - Oh, the secrets of the trade! lol That would have to be a pretty rigid tongue, and very pointy at the end! :-)

Nothingman - yes, I need to check this out. It'll be very useful. My early research into French Sign Language, for example, shows it to be very different to BSL and ASL (American Sign Language). For me, the alphabet in BSL seems far more logical. I will have fun! :-)

Lane - it's amazing what signs there are ... for everything! The sign for the country France, for example, is to pretend to twirl the end of a moustache! lol :-)

Roberta said...

ASL has always facinated me.

My brother and sister-in-law took classes so they could argue at the dinner table without upsetting the kids.

worked for a while.

Sarah Hina said...

That's great that you're challenging yourself, Seamus. And it is a beautiful, expressive language--almost like dance.

I tried tackling French while I was writing my novel. But since I didn't have anyone to practice with, it was all rather useless. Maybe someday...

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Good for you, Seamus! I learned to sign the alphabet once, but having just tried to get through it now, I find I've forgotten half of it. Reaching out to others, across language and other barriers is something we should probably all do a lot more of. Good luck with it!

Jamaican Dawta said...

I, too, want to learn sign language; it's been on my to-do list. It's truly a beautiful form of communication, and I love to watch persons using it in performances. It's almost like a dance. It's great that you've started learning. Keep it up.

Shameless said...

Roberta - wow, what a good way to deal with "talks" in front of the kids!

Sarah - Thank you. Yes, pracise will only make perfect ... I will have to find some way of doing that. :-)

Absolute V - Thanks. There is no greater feeling than knowing that we've got through to someone else.

JD - Oh, you really must do it. It's great fun and it's funny to have the feeling of getting to know my hands! lol. I've never focused on them so much before! :-)

thecrazydotter said...

Hi Shameless,
It was really inspiring to read this post. I am impressed by what you are doing. I have worked with people who can't speak or talk, but I never really got around to learning the language, and made up my own signs to communicate. I now wish I had made more effort to learn it.

Shameless said...

Crazydotter - Thanks. But it's not too late to learn. :-) You could find a local group or check it out on the Internet. I wonder how different your country's sign language is.

puresunshine said...

this is really cool! i used to practice very basic sign language. it would be our code thing in school. :) that apart, we used to speak in P language!!

witnessing am i said...

I remember being a child and being transfixed by the utter beauty of sign language, the hand and fingers and arms moving like the conductor of an orchestra. I often thought it the most beautiful language never heard.

Good for you, Mr. Shameless.

colleen said...

I'm impressed. It would be nice if they taught it in school and then when we travel and don't know the language we could all sign together.

Is that your name?

I don't know what's up with blogger. It won't let me sign in as OTHER today and so won't link back to my non-blogger blog.

Pearl said...

Wow, that's fantastic. It's been on my list to do as well. I got as far as an American Sign Language book 20 years ago. The sign language singer video was beautiful.

Saaleha said...

Good for you Shameless. May it help yu to build many a splendid bridge. Also, may you continue to have the strength to tick off items on the old 'To Do' list.

Shameless said...

Puresunshine - P language? Do tell. lol

Witnessing - Yes, I was also enthralled. I knew one day I had to take part! :-)


Colleen - The sign above is the letter P. :-)

Pearl - There must be something similar between ASL and BSL! I certainly hope so. :-) And yes, the signing along to that song was awesome. :-)

Saaleha - Thanks. :-) The trouble is, the list keeps growing. Well, it's no trouble really. :-)

Marja said...

Seamus If you don't mind I've added you to my blogroll and got a welcomes present for you. Come and pick it up.

Shameless said...

Marja - That's grand. I've added you too to my blogroll ... and I will go now and visit. :-)

puresunshine said...

P language is simple. Just add a p afer every two letters. Try it and speak fast. It's obviously only meant to be spoken.

Shameless said...

Puresunshine - Eh? I will look into this. You have sparked interest! :-)

sajego said...

Hey, that's me :) I just discovered that YouTube has a thing that shows you who links to your videos. I like it! I'm glad you liked my song.... I can't hear it without signing along (kind of like the national anthem too) but it still makes me cry.

Good luck with your BSL studies :)

Sara