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n my interpreting class last night everyone was required to do a group presentation on a topic of their choice.  There are only four boys in the class, so they all banded together and decided to do gender issues in interpreting.  Out of all the presentations, theirs impressed me the most.  They brought up a ton of interesting stuff.  that I had never contemplated before about interpreting for a person of the opposite gender.

*Disclaimer: There are dirty words in this post.

To start off their presentation one of the boys signed a story to us and asked us to write down our interpretation.  He told us it was an informal conversation among friends, so we should keep that in mind while interpreting.  My translation was “3 of my friends and I went out to a bar.  We were sitting at the counter when this girl walked up and sat down.  Her skirt was so short, you could totally see her vagina.”    Other girls had written down silly euphemisms like “Lady Junk” and our female teacher wrote down “she was clearly not wearing chonies.”

The boy’s point on this was that none of those words would have come out of their mouths… possibly vagina, but not very likely.  When they did the same excercise, they came up with words that would be considered much dirtier, like pussy and snatch… words that most females feel uncomfortable saying.  I’ve spent a lot of time around (extremely) rude and crass boys before, but none of those other terms came to my mind as I was translating.  I don’t know if I was just so concentrated on the meaning that I forgot I was representing someone else’s conversation, or if it’s truly because I’m female and uncomfortable with saying those things.  Maybe it was a little of both.  I think this exercise was a drastic example of how the male mind and the female mind work completely differently, and that you have to be aware of those things if you’re going to interpret for someone of the opposite gender.

Another thing they brought up was “Passive Voice”.    Passive Voice is a way of speaking and acting towards another person that is deferential.  Women often use passive voice when interacting with people, both male and female, so as not to be perceived as bitchy.  We do it without thinking about it, so it’s not a conscious choice or anything.  Males, however, often use a more aggressive voice – especially in business situations.  This will influence your interpreting style.

To illustrate this, the boys talked about the story of a woman interpreter and her male deaf client who was a manager at a company.  She noticed as she was interpreting for him at work meetings that the assignments he gave people either didn’t get done or got done much slower than some of the other manager’s requests.  She decided to have a chat with her client about how he wanted to be perceived around the office and then did her best to perpetuate that image through her speaking, even if it was uncomfortable for her.  People suddenly started taking his assignments more seriously.  When her client’s work evaluation came up, she did the same.  Instead of saying things like “I think I did pretty well this year”, she would say things like, ” I did great this year and this is why.”  She said she felt very rude and pushy doing it that way, but the performance evaluation went amazingly well.  When it was over, her deaf client told her it was the best evaluation he had ever had.

I think this is another good example of an interesting thing: I know how to be a woman in the world, but in order to be a good interpreter I should also learn about being a man in the world as best I can.  If I don’t learn more about gender dynamics and how men operate, I can potentially hurt a client by misrepresenting him.  I mean, best case scenario – he sounds silly.  Worst case scenario – he misses out on a promotion because he’s perceived as weak.

It’s a lot of food for thought, and something I’ve never really pondered before.  This interpreting stuff is harder than it looks!!

esidential Schools are an important part of Deaf Culture.  Because 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents, Deaf Culture can’t be transmitted (as culture usually is) from parent to child.  So who teaches Deaf children about Deaf Culture?  Up until very recently, they would learn about it at Residential Schools.

Residential Schools are boarding schools specifically for Deaf children, such as Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, or the American School for the Deaf.  Usually, parents send their children away to these schools to get a specialized education.  The idea is that the children will be taught and supervised by Deaf adults who will pass on the culture to them.  Although in the past signing was often prohibited, today ASL is used in the dining halls and for recreation as well as in the classroom in these schools.  For many of the children attending them, it’s the first experience they have had without communication barriers.  Even in the days when signing was taboo, children still found a way to pass on the ASL tradition.  Because of the amazing sense of community fostered by Residential Schools, many of it’s graduates will settle down in the community around the school.  Often, they will even be employed by the school.   This creates an even wider Deaf community to teach the next generation of Deaf children.

Lately there has been a lot of debate about the best way to educate Deaf Children.  Slowly but surely, Residential Schools are falling out of favor.  In this time of recession and budget cuts, states are becoming increasingly unhappy to fund these places.  Also, the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 made interpreters more widely available to Deaf students in mainstream classrooms.  Many hearing parents feel that mainstreaming will allow their child to be more versatile as they get older, and more and more Deaf children are taking classes with their hearing peers.  Other options that have become more popular are special Deaf schools that don’t have a boarding option, such as California School for the Deaf.  While Deaf teachers at these schools still transmit parts of the culture to their students, Deaf children don’t live their whole lives at the school and have less strong ties to the place.

Even though Residential schools have fallen on hard times, they have been an  immensely important piece of Deaf Culture from as far back as 1817 when Thomas Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc opened the first Residential School in Connecticut.   Millions of Deaf children were educated in such places, and the transmission of Deaf Culture flowed smoothly generation to generation.  In this new age, Deaf people have more of a challenge.  They will need to figure out  how to communicate Deaf  Culture to young children in an age of ever increasing budget cuts, without the built-in network of Residential Schools to help them.

ranville Redmond was born on March 9th, 1871.  At the age of two, he contracted Scarlett Fever and became deaf.  His parents wanted him to have every opportunity possible, so they moved the family out to California so he could attend the California School for the Deaf, in Berkley.   As soon as Granville entered an art class, it was certain what his profession would be.  He was extremely gifted in just about all aspects of art, and studied pantomime, sculpture, drawing and painting.  Granville was so talented at painting that his teacher, Theophilus d’Estrella, encouraged him to apply to the California School of Design in San Francisco.  He was accepted almost immediately

Granville’s years at the California School of Design were marked by success.  He won the famous W. E. Brown Medal of Excellence and was hailed as one of the top students in the school.  Perhaps most importantly he met Gottardo Piazzoni, another student at the school.  The two became fast friends and remained so for the rest of their lives, Gottardo learning to sign so the two could communicate better.

After three years at the California School of Design, the California School for the Deaf decided that Granville was so talented they wanted to sponsor him to attend an art school in Paris.  Granville enrolled at the Academie Julien in Paris with several other students who were sponsored by the California School for the Deaf, including his roommate, Douglas Tilden.  Granville’s time at the Paris school was also successful for him, and culminated in his painting, Matin d’hivre, being accepted into the world famous Paris Salon in 1895.

When he returned from Paris, Granville decided to settle in Los Angeles.  There he fell in love with the beaches, and started painting many of the ocean scenes he’s best known for.  He also fell in love with a deaf woman named Carrie Ann Jean.  The two were married in 1899 and had three children.  To make ends meet, Granville often worked as an illustrator for various periodicals, and painted scenes for the Santa Fe Railroad.  The family moved several times during this period, living in San Mateo, Tiburon, and Parkfield.  This gave Granville more and more material for his paintings and by 1905 he was known as the leading California landscape painter.  His impressionistic California landscapes were often compared to artists such as Monet and Pizarro.

Although his painting career was going well, Granville was fascinated by the movies.  All movies being made were silent at this time, so Granville’s deafness was not an obstacle,  and he suspected that with his background in pantomime he could make a great movie star.   Granville moved back to Los Angeles in 1917 to pursue an acting career.  Shortly after his move, he met Charlie Chaplin.   Chaplin was fascinated by Granville’s abilities and the two eventually became friends.  Chaplin asked Granville to teach him to sign, and in return Granville was given a bit part in the movie A Dog’s Life. Granville did such a great job that he often appeared in Chaplin’s films after that.  Even better, Chaplin arranged for Granville to set up a painting studio on the movie studio lot.  In his spare time, Granville also liked to travel to Laguna Beach to paint outdoors.

Granville died in Hollywood on May 24, 1935.  He will always be known for his paintings featuring the rolling hills of California dotted by wildflowers, the moody colors of sunsets and moonlit waters, and beautiful brown vignettes of trees.  His work is featured in museums across America and is still widely popular.  Just before he died, Granville stated: “The highest tribute paid to an artist is the reflection of man’s noblest work – to inspire.”  Granville’s life was wealth of artistic experiences.  His vision will always live on in the inspiration he has been giving future artists for generations.

alifornia School for the Deaf, Riverside was all aflutter with activity.  The football field was blindingly lit.  Clumps of parents stood around in awful flourescent yellow vests proclaiming “Event Staff” in black letters.  A long line of cars waited patiently to pull into the parking lot.  I parked by a tree and made my way to the football field in time to see the kickoff, winding my way through a busy avenue of red easy-ups selling food, Riverside t-shirts, and phone services.  Kids ran here and there throughout the vast crowd, a sea of sporadic red.  Some of them had paws or “go cubs” drawn on their faces in red lipstick as they ran.  I took my place awkwardly at the back of the crowd, trying to find a spot where I wouldn’t be in the way, but could still see the football game.  As I watched the crowd around me, the cheerleaders trying to excite the crowd and the game happeining on the field, it struck me just how similar and different this event was from the events I had been to at my mainstream high school.

A festival atmosphere surrounded the crowd.  It was impossible not to notice how excited everyone was to be there.  As I joined them, I couldn’t help but notice how quiet the crowd was in comparison to a hearing crowd of the same size.  There was very little talking going on, with everyone signing excitedly to their neighbor.  Hearing children would run by me, chattering to their friends as they went, and students stood talking quietly in little groups.  People were constantly walking by me on their way for another drink or a funnel cake, and they would inevitably be stopped by someone who was thrilled to see them.  It seemed to me as if the whole crowd knew each other.

There was a cheer squad standing on the sidelines in red outfits.  They stood in lines, high school aged girls in red and white cheer uniforms and little elementary aged girls in white t-shirts with red pleated skirts.  They did several routines clumped together on the sidelines, staying together as well as if there were invisible music playing.  At half time when they spread apart onto the field, they weren’t as united as when they had been clumped together, but they were still very good.  As the night wore on, the littler girls joined the crowd and the cheerleaders started throwing things into the audience.  Suddenly, people were waving their arms and cheering at the girls, just to get a little football thrown their way.  It was the first time all night that the crowd seemed interested in what was happeining on the field.  The cheerleaders were great, but somehow they didn’t seem to hold my interest like they normally do at a game.

On my way back from the snack booth at half time, I ran into Red from my Deaf Culture class and I realized that she was standing with a whole group of people who I also knew.  I joined them, chatted a lot, and tried to keep one eye on the game.  For some reason, I had such a hard time paying attention to anything going on out there.  Every once in a while I would look up and realize that the score was different, but there had been no fanfare to tell me that things had changed, no collective cheer or groan from the audience about another touchdown being scored.

Overall my experience was great, if a little unusual.  It took me a long time to find people I knew in the crowd, and I spent most of my time feeling outside of things.  At the same time, people tapping my shoulder to ask me to move or signing “excuse me”, and being otherwise treated politely like a true member of Deaf Culture, made me feel like I belonged.  While things were remarkably similar to the Homecoming activities I remembered from my own days in high schoo, the lack of noise and the lack of attention payed to the game really marked this event as different.  I think that if I knew more people there I would have loved going to Homecoming.  As it was I had a very good time and would certainly go again.

BearHunt Baseball Player tilden TildenPenelope Mechanics Monument Tilden

ASLDouglas Tilden was born May 1st, 1860 to William Peregrine Tilden and Catherine Hecox Tilden.  His father was a doctor.  Douglas caught Scarlett Fever when he was four years old and became completely deaf.  His parents wanted him to have an education, so they sent him away to the California School for the Deaf, which was then located in Berkley. The school moved several times before finally ending up in Fremont where it’s located today.  After he finished school, Douglas accepted a teaching position. 

Throughout his eight year teaching at the school, Douglas made many figures out of clay.  When some of his work came to the attention of the faculty at the California School for the Deaf, they took up a collection to send him to New York and Paris to learn about sculpture.  In 1887, Douglas spent eight weeks in New York and about five years in paris studying under several famous sculptors, but mostly Paul Chopin who was also deaf.  While in Paris, Douglas won many sculpture design contests and had his work installed all over the world.  He returned triumphantly to the California School for the Deaf in 1893. 

In 1896, Douglas got married to Elizabeth Delano Cole.  Elizabeth was the deaf adopted daughter of a local entrepreneur, and renowned for her beauty.  They had two children, a daughter named Gladys, and a son named Willoughby Lee.  Their marriage was tempestuous, and ultimately ended in an extremely unfriendly divorce.  Elizabeth did serve as the model for an angel in Douglas’ sculpture titled “Native Son Monument”, now located in San Francisco. 

When he got married, Douglas left the California School for the Deaf to pursue sculpture full time.  The faculty at the school was upset by this.  They felt that because they had paid for his schooling in Paris, he owed them by either staying a teacher at the school or reimbursing them for the cost of his education.  Douglas had thought that his education had been a gift, and he felt he shouldn’t have to pay them back.  The California School for the Deaf ultimately confiscated one of his sculptures, “The Bear Hunt”, as payment for his tuition.  This sculpture is displayed on the campus today.  At this time, San Francisco was spending tons of money on public works of art to be displayed around town.  Because the Mayor of San Francisco, James Phelan, greatly admired Douglas’ work, he was chosen to do many of the sculptures that were comissioned, including “The Baseball Player” in Golden Gate Park, “Mechanics Monument” in Lownsdale Square, and “Admission Day” and “California Volunteers” on Market Street. 

Many of Douglas’s sculptures depict young athlethic men, and because of his failed relationship with his wife, many people have surmised that he may have been homosexual.  There has never been any evidence found to back up this theory, even among the extensive personal papers Douglas left behind after his death.  Though Douglas was most likely not gay, some of his sculputres, especially the sculpture called “The Football Players” on the UC Berkley campus have become adopted symbols of the gay pride movement.

After his divorce and James Phelan’s promotion to State Senator, Douglas tried to seek employment with the Californai School for the Deaf again, but fell prey to the tide of Oralism sweeping the nation: The California School for the Deaf no longer employed deaf teachers.  Instead, Douglas moved to Hollywood and began to sculpt dinosaurs and other extinct animals for historical and educational films.  The income from these films allowed him to set up a studio and take students, and he also became very active as an advocate for the deaf community. 

By 1930, even the small amount of work Douglas was getting in Hollywood had dried up.  He moved back to Berkley and filed for welfare.  Douglas died in Berkley on August 4th, 1934.  His daughter Gladys donated all of his old paperwork, correspondence, and photos to UC Berkley.  Because of Douglas’ habit of making small bronze sculptures for friends, and also as thank you gifts, many of his smaller works are still being discoverd by the general public today.

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