Levels of Power | ASL Ponderings & Deaf Awareness Month

Not sure yet if I will turn this into a blog post, I’ll have to consider how to make it translate well in the written word.



Etymology | ASL Ponderings (sorta)

Video: https://youtu.be/qjueKHOYZNo

Note: I attempt to notate some signs, so I would suggest you watch the video if you want to be clear on what the sign looks like. Also, fs is short for fingerspelling.

Hello, welcome back! I was unsure about labeling this as an ASL Ponderings because this is more focused on linguistics and analyzing the etymology of a word. So… I guess this is half ASL Ponderings, half linguistics? Today, I want to discuss a specific word: NIGHTMARE. The reason why I wanted to discuss this is that often, ASL signers don’t really think about the etymology of a word or the history of how that word came into being. For this specific word, it’s very interesting. Many will sign this word this way: [night fs:m-a-r-e], or [bad dream]. Either way, it’s simple. However, [night fs:m-a-r-e] is not exactly linguistically correct. [bad dream] does work linguistically though. Personally, I grew up signing it this way. [nightmare] The reason why this is coming up is because I was chatting with someone recently, and I realized that I don’t know why I sign it that way. I wondered if it was an actual ASL sign or if it was just something my family used, so I posted in the ASL That! Facebook group asking what their signs were for this particular word. Many were either of the previously mentioned signs. One in Canada had a very interesting way of signing it. (Go to 1:32 in the video to see this sign.) I did think of a few ways of why I sign it this way. I will propose two theories where my sign for nightmare came from at the end, but I want to explain a little more about the word itself first.

Image result for mære folkloreI was struck by one comment that said [night fs:m-a-r-e] doesn’t make sense because mare is related to horses, and horses have nothing to do with dreams or the word itself, nightmare. Hmm. Is mare from the origins of horse? No, not necessarily. In Old English, horse was originally either mȳre or mere, the feminine forms of mearh (horse). That’s where mare came from for when referring to an adult female horse. While looking at the etymology of nightmare, it comes from Old English mære. It’s the name for an evil spirit or goblin that will sit on people’s chests while they sleep, causing them to have bad dreams. It’s old Germanic, Slavic, and Northern Europe folklore. Back then, people would use the mære lore to explain that they had bad dreams last night due to the evil spirit sitting on them. Later on, night was added on to emphasize the dream aspect of it, rather than the folklore. Thus, it’s become the word we have today – nightmare.

Now that I’ve expanded and explained what the etymology of nightmare is, I want to propose my theories on where my sign came from. The first one isn’t really connected to what I previously explained. It’s possible that it came from the sign for dream. Dreams are minor, while nightmares are more intense and strong dreams. Thus the sign’s adding more fingers to show the intensity of the dream. That’s one possible theory. Onto the second. I think it could possibly be from the sign for dream and the sign for evil being combined to become nightmare. (See the video at 3:35 to see this visually.) So I think that’s one possibility. What do you think? Do you agree with my theory, or do you think I’m way off base? What do you think of that sign for nightmare? Let me know! I hope you enjoyed this little linguistics lesson about the word nightmare. Don’t forget I have a Patreon and ko-fi. Social medias – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for watching, see you next time.

Some extra fun stuff – it’s mære in Old English, mare in Old Dutch, mara in Old High German, Old Norse, and Old Church Slavic. Here’s the wiki if you want to read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mare_(folklore)

Unhealthy Obsession | ASL Ponderings

Video: http://youtu.be/WPZi-Tbj038

AN UNHEALTHY OBSESSION. Nah, don’t worry, it’s not actually a bad thing! I’m sure you were a little thrown by the title, and you’re wondering what’s up, what’s an unhealthy obsession? I want to have a frank discussion about the obsession with the “I LOVE YOU” sign. I’ve talked about this before with some of my friends, and they agree on this. We don’t understand why. When I went to Europe, I was taken aback at how often I saw it there. Like… What? The ILY sign is EVERYWHERE. Everywhere. I mean it, everywhere in the world. From what I’ve seen, hearing people (usually non-signers) are obsessed with this sign for some reason. I don’t understand it. If you understand this obsession, please explain it to me! If you go to a Deaf* expo or conference where there are booths selling products, it is GUARANTEED that there will be a booth that has something with an [ILY] on it. Guaranteed! The expo/conference might even have some booths that have nothing BUT [ILY] products. This obsession is SO bad and so prevalent, I’ve seen Deaf* comic artists make fun of this. They tease about if you see a booth that has the [ILY] everywhere, they’re hearing. Why? Because as mentioned before, they’re obsessed with the [ILY], and everything has the [ILY]. Deaf* people say, “Okay fine, we do use this, but we don’t use it as much as some people do. You’re taking this above and beyond.”

The biggest thing that I don’t understand about the obsession with this is the fact that other countries have adopted this sign, and used it as a way of saying the same thing in their country. Even though it doesn’t work with their language. Let me explain for those who don’t know sign. The picture below shows how the sign was created.

So…yes, ILY works with English. But it wouldn’t work in other languages right? Let’s take Spain as an hypothetical example. “I love you” in Spanish is “Te amo.” T and a. There’s no i, l, or y. Clearly, [ILY] doesn’t work in their language, but they may have adopted it for use. This is where the line between languages blurs, because it’s sign language. It doesn’t have to follow spoken language!

However, I honestly do not understand why people are stuck on using that for “representing” the Deaf* community. I don’t want to have a shirt that has I LOVE YOU on it and is screaming it to the world… Because I don’t love everyone, I’m sorry but it’s true, I don’t. There are certain people that can be really… Difficult to love. I’m not going to say names, but I think you can guess one major person that I would really not have the ability to even… Erm, like. ANYWAY. That’s not the point. I don’t want to have a product that screams “I LOVE YOU” to every person who looks at it. I’m just — no. Why can’t our clothes be representative of other sign, or other art related to the Deaf* community? And not always something to do with fingerspelling or the [ILY] sign. I feel like that’s what all of the Deaf* products are: [ILY] and the ABCs. That’s it. Or something that uses the ABCs to fingerspell the name of a person, for example. But not much else.

Here I am, complaining about there not being any products that don’t use [ILY] or fingerspelling. Before you contact me, yelling about there being some, let me stop you right there. Yes, they do exist. But they’re extremely limited. I do own one! It’s a T-shirt with the design shown on the left. It’s the sign for tiger (if you couldn’t figure that out). This one is mostly to do with the RIT Tigers. This is one of the few ASL products that DON’T follow the ABCs or [ILY]. It comes from a Deaf-owned business, called Handsay. You can find them here. They have a wide range of Deaf-related products! Alright, what are your thoughts on this? Is this sign over-used? Or are you just as obsessed with this as other people are? I’m NOT saying that it’s a bad thing to be obsessed with this, I just want to understand, why?? What are your reasons for obsessing over this? Let me know! That’s all for today’s ASL Ponderings. I know it wasn’t really an in-depth thinking about ASL like my other posts/videos. BUT I promise I will have other posts that are more in-depth about ASL and such.

Contact me or leave in the comments of my video (linked at the beginning of this post) if there’s anything you want me to talk about. It can be something to do with ASL, or anything else. I don’t care! I want to give you a quick reminder that I have a Patreon page, where you can pay monthly to support my making content on this site. I also have ko-fi. You can give an one-time payment of $3, or add more if you want, up to you! I appreciate any support you give me, and to those people who have already given me some support, thank you!

Follow me on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube. Thank you for reading today’s post, see you next time!

Writing in Sign?? | ASL Ponderings

Video: http://youtu.be/PWQ1UjOtWKk

Hello! On my video, 10 Things About Me, someone commented about a topic they wanted me to talk about. When I saw it, I immediately wanted to talk about it, because it’s something that I’m really interested in. I had NO script for this video, no list of my thoughts, nothing. SO, in advance, I apologize if I’m vague and all over the place and not on point. The comment is from Barnabus, shown below.

Great question, for sure! I personally support creating some form of written sign. Barnabus mentioned si5s. I have the book which I got a long time ago, when it had recently published. So some of the information in it is outdated now, but overall, it’s a good starting place. A person named Adrean Clark established a slightly different form, called ASLWrite. Now, from my understanding, Adrean used to work with the person who created si5s. But then they had a disagreement about how to do things, so they parted ways. The reason why I mention this is because si5s and ASLWrite have many similarities because they are based off the same system. Both ASLWrite and si5s have a website, but ASLWrite’s website has a free downloadable PDF of the rules of how to write, handshape symbols, and different things. ASLWrite also has a open Facebook group. I like that there’s a group for several reasons. If I’m writing something, thinking about how to translate that from sign to writing. I’m unsure if it’s right or not, I can upload it to that group, and ask if it’s right, or if it should be written another way, or whatever. I can get instant feedback from that. So that’s a great benefit. I like that you have that interaction, that community. While si5s focuses on a book, classes, workshops, as far as I know.

I like how ASLWrite shows the handshapes over how si5s shows the handshapes. Why? si5s has a basic handshape, a drawing of a basic handshape that looks something like the first image in the sequence below. Then it will use symbols at the top as shown below. The different symbols represent how the handshape changes. Into a flat bent hand, or a claw, or whatever else.

On the other hand, ASLWrite throws out those symbols and just directly shows the handshape itself, and doesn’t depend on symbols to tell you how the handshape changes. I personally am leaning more towards ASLWrite than towards si5s. [UPDATE: I was informed after posting this video that si5s has moved away from these symbols and now follows the handshapes much like ASLWrite.] The basic point is I support establishing some form of written system for sign.

However… I don’t know if we’re there yet. That’s important to say, I don’t think we’re quite there yet for having a full system of writing in ASL, and teaching children how to write in ASL. I think we’re still in the infancy stage. We still have to seriously develop a course for teaching how to write in sign at all age levels. Also, I’m having a hard time seeing how we can use this in our everyday lives. Because sure, writing in sign is great! It’s a good way to preserve and record our signs. Though… How do we make it possible for us to be able to “write” in that on Facebook or something like that? I think that’s way beyond what we’re capable of right now. And honestly, creating videos is easier. Just film yourself signing, upload it and send, you’re good to go. So, I don’t know. I think it’s cool to have a written system for sign, but it’s hard to do it alone. You really have to do it with other people too, to really to be able to develop it. And have it become innate, to be able to write without having to think “how do I represent this sign right?” Much like learning any new language really. That’s one struggle I have when I’m trying to learn how to write in sign. Reading is different, I can kind of read and understand some. But do we really need this written system? We have videos, that is our “writing.”

Okay, this is a topic I can probably go in-depth on in another post, but I’m going to give you the basics. When I went to Frontrunners, my school in Denmark, we discussed frequently about bilingual education. I actually ended up cutting a lot out of my video related to this topic, because I went off point and started talking about bilingual education. This is a really complicated topic, and I struggled a little bit with figuring out how to explain this. BUT. I’ll stick to the basics. We talked about how videos is a way of writing for signers. How does this work? We “hear” with our eyes, we “speak” with our hands, we “write” with filming ourselves, and we “read” with watching videos. That is the extreme basics of it. Therefore, do we really need a written system? Videos are the most accurate way of expressing our language. I don’t know, maybe I’m just blowing air. What do you think? Should we have a written system, or is videos good enough?

IMPORTANT: I encourage you to go read the comments on the video linked to this topic (at top of this post), there were a lot of great thoughts and fantastic points. Some of them were things I never thought of before!

I apologize if this post was a little bit all over the place and long. I hope you liked it anyway. Let me know what you think of this post, and if you want to know more about this. Thanks for reading, see you next time.