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t Mount San Antonio College, where I’m studying for my sign certificate, there are ducks all over the ASL department.  Rubber ducks, duck pens, decoy ducks, yellow feathers, plush ducks, basically any kind of duck you can think of, it’s there somewhere.  Frequently I’ll come into class and there will be duck pictures drawn all over the white boards, with the words “Quack” written everywhere too.  On the day a bunch of people came into class wearing duck masks and pelting little duck erasers at the teacher, we got a hilarious explanation of what’s really going on.   This is what we were told:

Robert Arnold started it all, he fully admits to everything.  In his first year of teaching, he was required to attend these once a week meetings about how to be a better teacher.  He’s Deaf, so he had two interpreters to go with him.  Well, the meetings were pretty boring.  So instead of trying to pay attention, he decided to screw with the interpreters.  He would be signing really inappropriate things to the one interpreter while the other interpreter was trying to do her job, and vice versa.  The interpreter would be watching their conversation and trying really hard not to be unprofessional and laugh.  The other two were also frequently trying not to laugh out loud and disturb the meeting, which they did with varying success.  The interpreters didn’t know what to do.  They finally asked the big boss, Julie Bradley, what they should do about the situation so they could remain professional.

Julie decided to come down to the meeting and see what was going on for herself.  Instead of behaving himself,  Bob asked the interpreters why someone hadn’t made an air freshener for farts.  You could stick it up there and when you farted it could emit a little puff of scent and be really nice.  Or how about a whistle?  Instead of the farting noise, it could whistle Yankee Doodle or Camp Town Races or something.  Eventually this devolved into sticking a duck whistle up there.  That way when you farted, you would emit a really loud duck call.  After that he would draw pictures of ducks on pieces of paper and hold them up for the interpreters to see as they were trying to do their job.

And so the Duck Wars were born.  It’s the interpreters against the Deaf teachers, and they both attempt to recruit students to their side.  The interpreters started leaving Bob little plush ducks and things, and Bob chuckled in glee as he told us about the day he completely covered every inch of Julie’s office with yellow feathers.  She duckified his office in retaliation a little while later, and now there are ducks all over the place.  Most of the students seem to be on Juile’s side.  As she points out, she teaches most of the interpreting classes and it’s kinda up to her whether we pass the program or not.  I also think that, as future interpreters ourselves, we tend to side with our partners in occupation.

As Bob says, the Duck Wars are a great way to break the monotony at work and have a little fun among colleagues.  I think it gives our department a little more personality.  All the students love it, and it’s never disrupted our learning environment.  In fact, I think it adds to it.    It’s great to be in a serious class, but sometimes a little diversion helps you study better after it’s over.  So if you’re going to Mt. SAC, slip someone a duck.


lectricity is another great game to play in ASL class.  It helps you learn you alphabet better, as you will have to identify letters with your eyes closed.  Also, trying to pass the letter on to your neighbor as quickly as possible leads to lots of fun times.  Here are the rules.

First, pick two volunteers.  One will be the “Source” and the other will be the “Light”.  Next you need two lines of people, the lines must contain an equal number of people.  The two lines of people face away from each other and hold hands.  The “Source” connects the two lines together on one end, and the “Light” at the other, to make a circle with all the members facing the walls of the room.  The “Source” is the only person who should be looking towards the inside of the circle.  When everyone is ready, they will close their eyes.  The “Source” will sign a letter to each of the people they are holding hands with at the same time.  Those people will then pass the letter like a chain down the line until it reaches the “Light.”  The first team to get their electric current to the light wins.  If the letter is not correct, however, that team looses and the other team wins.

You can repeat this as many times as you want to.  It ends up being a really fun time.


ASLASL storytelling is an amazing art, and so much fun to watch.  One of the most popular kinds of stories is the ABC story.  This is where the signer tells a story about any subject at all, except they use words starting with specific hand shapes.  The first word has to use the “a” hand shape, and the second “b”, until all letters of the alphabet are used.  The letters have to be used in order, and no other hand shapes may be interspersed between them.  If it’s a really good ABC story, you shouldn’t realize that you’re watching an ABC story at all.  There are so many good examples on the web, it’s really fun to take an afternoon and peruse through the youtube videos. 

A lot of students are assigned to make an ABC story to share in class.  Most of them talk about how hard it is, and I can tell you that it’s so true.  When I saw a great example of an ABC story done by an ASL 2 student, I decided to try my hand at it.  After all, if she could do it so can I, right?  It turns out that it’s not that easy.  I keep getting stuck at “e”.  I don’t know if it’s my skimpy ASL 2 vocabulary that’s making it harder or what, but I’m going to have to work hard to complete it.  It’s been a day and a half, and I only have up to “F”.  “G” has been another really hard hand shape for me.  I’m going to stick to it, though, until I do something amazing.  Or kind of passable.  I just found my video camera, so I’ll post it here when I’m done along with the English transcript. 

Since I’ve been out of class, I’ve been reading a lot of books on Deaf Culture.  It’s been such a wonderful experience.  If I thought I was in love with Deaf Culture before, now I’m hooked in so much deeper.  The rich tradition of storytelling makes me want to open my arms to the world and express what’s inside me.  It seems so much easier to do in ASL than in English.  I can’t wait to pick up more language so I can participate more fully.  ABC stories are just where I’m starting.  It’s going to be fun.


ASLWe play several games in ASL class, and Buzz 7 is the one we play the most often.  For the record, I hate this game a little bit because I’m terrible at math.  I’m inevitably the first person to go out in my group.  It’s a lot of fun to watch everyone else play though, and get all flustered and silly when they accidentally sign a 7.   I’m sure I could like it a lot more if I could get over being a poor sport.  🙂  Here are the rules:

Everyone stands in a circle and signs numbers in order.  The first person would sign 1, the second 2, the third 3 and so on.  The catch is that 7s are deadly poison and buzz you out of the circle.  So if the 7th person signed 7, they’d be out, as well as anyone signing 17, 27, 37, etc…  In fact, 7s are so poisonous that they also infect multiplesof 7 in addition to numbers with 7s in them, so anyone signing 14, 21, 28, 35 etc… would also be out.   if it’s your turn, and the number you would be signing is a poison number, you should just skip it and go onto the next one.  So the 6th person in the circle would sign 6 and the 7th person would sign 8.  The first person to accidentally sign a 7 or a multiple of 7 is out, and the game starts over with the remaining players until only one math whiz is left standing.   Anyone who hesitates on their turn is also out.   Be brutal, it’s more fun that way.

Not only is this game a good time for us, and a great break from intense class, it’s also a great way to learn our numbers better.  I know I’ve gotten a lot faster at signing them since I started playing Buzz 7.  Enjoy.

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