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am at the point in my signing that when I meet a Deaf person, they usually tell me that my sign is quite good. I’m not really sure if that means my sign is actually good, or whether or not it only exceeds expectations, but I’ll take whatever I can get. I realized at a party the other day when I was signing with a friend, that your ability to understand Deaf people does not actually go up with your signing ability. The reason for this is that when your sign speeds up and gets better, so does the Deaf person who you’re talking to.
Remember in ASL 1 when you could only understand about every other word that was being signed to you? The Deaf person was undoubtedly going very slowly and taking a lot of time to make sure you understand. As your sign got better, so did the speed at which others communicated with you. I’m at the point now where I get rapid-fire sign being thrown at me in non-English structure and I have to grasp for anything that will anchor me into the conversation. I’ve known ASL for three years now, feel that attaining fluency is right around the corner, and I can still only understand about every other word that’s being said to me.
I’m sure that as I begin to recognize non-English structure, I’ll become more comfortable in these conversations. Also, it isn’t like I don’t feel that my skills are improving. My husband has recently learned to sign, and is discovering the wonderful world of ASL Youtube videos (as I did). He’ll make me come in and interpret things for him if he doesn’t understand and thinks it’s probably funny, and I’m very able to! I also consider it a very good omen that my sign is considered good enough by my Deaf friends to leave the PSE at home (that’s Pigeon Signed English).
I had this mythos in my head that when I had passed ASL 4, I would be amazing and able to communicate flawlessly with everyone. It turns out, there’s still a lot of work between ASL 4 and understanding every single word a person is saying to you, full speed ahead. I just thought you’d like to know.