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s you may already have known, I’m a History Major at Chapman University right now. I’m allowed to do my Senior Thesis on any historical topic that I want (best news ever, by the way), so I have chosen to become a Deaf Historian for the next year-and-a-half! I’m studying the National Association of the Deaf films that were made between 1910 and 1920 in an effort to preserve sign language. So far, it’s been fascinating. I haven’t been able to get my hands on all the films yet, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to soon. They’re all at the Gallaudet University archives, along with all the correspondence of NAD President George Veditz. It also looks like a school-sponsored trip to the Gallaudet archives might be in the cards for me. Super exciting!
So, as part of my task to get rolling on this subject, I had to create an essay on how others have studied that topic in the past. It’s ten pages long, and heavily footnoted (Yikes!). I’ve included the intro down below, because I think it really gives a lot of info on the background of the films that’s fun, and also super interesting. I always say to take my stuff with a grain of salt, because it’s not particularly well-researched, but you can take this one as well-researched fact. I’ll paste the footnotes at the bottom. I’ll also post the whole essay at some point, but I want to make it easy for those who don’t want to wade through a ten page essay on historic theory to skip. 🙂 Here it is!
George Veditz and the National Association for the Deaf Films
In 1880 in Milan, Italy, the International Congress on Education for the Deaf voted to ban the use of sign language in Deaf schools.  Spurred by the rhetoric of Alexander Graham Bell, known to most Americans as the inventor of the telephone, American Deaf schools flocked to comply with the Milan Conference’s decision. In return, a movement was spawned by Deaf community leaders advocating sign language instruction, fiercely hanging onto the culture they had fought so hard to create. Still, it looked as if the Deaf were losing this fight as Alexander Graham Bell, a follower of eugenics, tried to convince everyone that the Deaf were forming their own separate race. Even those who didn’t subscribe to eugenics “demanded the elimination of sign language, believing that it undermined English language acquisition and promoted deaf separatism.”  In the end, deaf people would have to live in a hearing world, they argued, and they should have the skills to deal with that fact. Science has since proved what Deaf people knew all along, that this theory does not work in practicality. Keeping sign language away from deaf people keeps all language away from deaf people, and can be harmful to cognitive development. Still, it looked as if sign might become extinct in the near future.
This is the climate in which the National Association of the Deaf, under President George Veditz, decided to make several films for the preservation of Sign Language. “The N.A.D… has collected a fund of $5,000, called the Moving Picture Fund.” Veditz wrote, “…I am sorry that it is not $20,000.” With such a limited budget, Veditz and the NAD Board had to decide carefully which signers they would film and what subjects they would cover. Ultimately, the films they chose to make tended to center on Deaf history, American patriotism, and religion. Eighteen films were made in all, from the years 1913-1920, but only fourteen of these survived to the modern age. The loss of 4 films was due in large part to their heavy use by the Deaf community, and the poorly trained film operators responsible for winding the machines.
The films were made by pointing a static camera at the signers and having them lecture to it. Often, small amounts of scenery such as vases and curtains were placed in the background for visual effect. Because of the black and white picture and the poor resolution of the film, signers had to make sure they produced their signs large and signed slowly so everyone could see them. After a few mistakes, most notably the film showing Edward Minter Gallaudet’s lecture – a retelling of Lorna Doone – filmmakers were also careful to place the lecturers on plain, dark backgrounds so their hands would show up easily. These films compared favorably with other films of the time in technical skill and appearance.
Once the films were completed, they were circulated throughout the United States to local Deaf Clubs. These clubs would often couple the film screening with live entertainment, making each screening a huge event in the local Deaf community. Large groups of signers would congregate in the hall downtown to see the films. Sometimes, requests were made for the NAD to send transcripts of the films that could be read for any hearing visitors in the audience. Although Veditz’s film, featuring his impassioned plea for sign language is the best known today, it was E.M. Gallaudet’s film that was most requested when the films were released, despite the difficult background of his film. This was probably due to the popularity of E.M. Gallaudet’s father, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. T.H. Gallaudet had been instrumental in forming the first school for the Deaf, in Hartford, Connecticut.
Although the films had a major impact on the Deaf community when they were first produced, scholarship on them has been spotty at best. Many books cover the topic, but devote no more than a few pages to the exploration of the history of these films. Some give no more than a brief mention to Veditz’s films as being the precursor to modern Sign Language recording. This paper attempts to explore in greater detail not only the motives behind George Veditz’s creation of these films, and how these films influenced deaf culture as a whole, but also why the topic hasn’t been better covered by Deaf Historians.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed! 🙂 Also, a link to Veditz’s film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XITbj3NTLUQ
 The deaf community uses the term “Deaf” with a capital D to denote the segment of deaf people who consider themselves culturally deaf. This separates them from other groups such as the elderly, who may experience total hearing loss, but hardly identify with the Deaf as a community. I feel it is important to make this designation in the language Deaf people use about themselves, and have continued this practice throughout the paper.
 Daniel Eagan, America’s Film Legacy, (The Continuum Publishing Group: New York, 2012), Page 11
 Signs of Resistance, Page 3
 Oliver Sacks, Seeing Voices: A Journey Into the World of the Deaf, (University of California Press: Berkley, 1990), Page 54
 Eagan, America’s Film Legacy, Page 11
 Susan Burch, Signs of Resistance: American Deaf Cultural History 1900-WWII, (New York University Press: New York, 2002), Page 58
 Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Inside Deaf Culture, (Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 2005), Page 58
 Padden and Humphries, Inside Deaf Culture, Page 63
 Padden and Humphries, inside Deaf Culture, (Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 2005), Page 63
etty G. Miller was born in 1934, and her parents were both Deaf. Betty had two older brothers who were hearing, so everyone just assumed that Betty was too, especially because she could clearly hear a little bit. It was a surprise to everyone in her family when she attended Kindergarten for the first time and was diagnosed as Hard of Hearing. This threw her family for a loop. Remembering all the prejudice and oppression they had experienced at the hands of hearing people, Betty’s parents decided that they wanted her to make the most use of whatever hearing she had. This is why they made the surprising decision to send her to Bell School in Chicago – a school known for Oralistic practices. Later, Betty’s parents took her out of Bell School and switched her into a regular mainstream school. But the mainstream school didn’t have speech therapy, so Betty went to still another school in the evenings to be tutored in speech.
Betty did the best she could at these schools, and was a very successful student. She got her degree in Art Education from Pennsylvania State University , but it wasn’t until she started to teach at Gallaudet University that things seemed to click for her. She finally felt the sense of belonging that she had missed out on in her mainstream school career. Betty’s art focused completely on the Deaf experience, depicting the oppression Deaf people face at the hands of hearing, and also exhibiting the joy of sign that can be found throughout the Deaf community. Many of her paintings depict puppet-like deaf people – no doubt a response to all her speech therapy classes. Artwork that focused entirely on the Deaf experience was an entirely new form of artwork in the 1970’s, and came to be called “Deaf View/Image Art.” Or De’VIA Betty was one of the early pioneers of this form of art.
Betty’s first one woman show took place at Gallaudet University in 1972, entitled “The Silent World”. It was so successful, that throughout the 1970s’, she continued to have shows frequently at Gallaudet. They were all very well received. This spurred a series of one woman shows throughout the 1980’s and ‘90’s, and also many collaborative shows with other Deaf artists. In 1993, Betty put on a showcase of eight Deaf artists, which was the largest collection of De’VIA that had ever taken place.
After 13 years of teaching at Gallaudet, Betty decided it was time to move on. After a time touring around the country putting on shows, she became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor – the first Deaf person to ever do so. This has allowed her to have a rewarding career helping other Deaf people overcome serious addiction problems, and also educating other Drug and Alcohol counselors on how best to work with Deaf people. She has published a book about her and others experiences entitled “Deaf and Sober: Journeys Through Recovery” which she has both authored and illustrated.
Betty is currently in her 80’s. Unfortunately, she has suffered from some memory loss and doesn’t create art very often anymore. When she does, it’s usually in Neon – a medium she discovered in the late 1990’s. Still, her pioneering efforts in the field of De’VIA will always be remembered as some of the greatest contributions of the 20th century art world. Without Betty, the world would be a little less bright and a little less Deaf-aware.
I just attended a whole day of Orientation events at Chapman University. I was thrilled to find that they had ASL interpreters for all the large group events with podium speakers! For the 1 1/2 hour long convocation ceremony, they even had a team! First of all, props to Chapman for understanding and paying for the services Deaf people need. That being said, I think they could improve their service even more.
My husband works at Chapman University, which means that I get to meet all sorts of behind-the-scene University people that most students don’t. At a wedding a while ago, I met the woman who was in charge of booking the interpreters for special events at Chapman. She told me that they were looking to improve the services they offered. I believe I told them about RID certification and how that was a really good way to know you have an amazing interpreter.
The interpreters yesterday were a mixed bag. I think they probably came from an agency, but really I’m just guessing. The first group I watched was a team of two women. The first woman was absolutely amazing and gave an equal-access interpretation. She was funny when the speaker was funny, extremely animated, and caught almost every bit of information being thrown out by the speaker. The second gal was not as good. To be fair, she was interpreting for a man using lots of folksy language and English idioms, but I felt that she didn’t match the speaker very well and she left out a lot of non-essential information.
The team did well, though. I hardly noticed when they switched between each other and they even kept interpreting through the non-captioned video that was shown. I was thoroughly impressed.
That night, I went to a talk on the History and Traditions of Chapman University. It was such a cool and funny class. I was sitting in a really bad place to watch the interpreter (there were very tall people all around me and she was standing on the floor). While I can’t really comment on the rest of the interpreting job she was doing, she didn’t interpret through the non-captioned movie, which I didn’t appreciate.
The two bits of advice I would have to Chapman about using interpreters in the future would be to ask the agency for people who are RID certified or have been interpreting more than five years. They do so much to make their students feel welcome, and I really think it would be such a relief for Deaf students to see that they were getting equal access to information being presented. It would make Deaf parents feel that they were leaving their student in the hands of someone who not only cares, but is willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of their child.
The second piece of advice would be to put those interpreters on a podium, please!! I’d like to be able to see them no matter where I was sitting, and a little elevation will do just that.
Chapman University is a class act. For people who know next to nothing about interpreters or interpreting, they did really well! I was impressed by everything I saw yesterday, not just the interpreters. Watching their interpreters made me feel like they really cared, though. They really wanted everyone to have a good experience at orientation, not just the “normal” hearing freshmen. I think I’m going to like attending here!
have a very exciting announcement! At least, I’m very excited about it. I have officially dropped out of Mt. San Antonio College. With budget cut after budget cut, I just can’t get classes for the life of me. I’m now 2 years behind in a 3 year program (of which I had taken the first year before I started at Mt. SAC), and I’m afraid of how much longer it will take me to get through if I stay with the current plan.
The new plan is to transfer to Golden West College. The same price as Mt. SAC with a good overall reputation, It looks like I’ll be able to get into all the classes I need fairly easily (!!!). It also looks like their program is a little less strict than the Mt. SAC program, but that doesn’t bother me at all. I’m ready to get my hands in the air, and I’ve decided that I just can’t wait as long as Mt. SAC expects me to, crossing my fingers every year that I get into the class I need this time.
On the other front, I start attending Chapman University for my BA this year. I love telling people I’m a History major and then, when they ask me what I plan to do with that degree, tell them “ASL Interpreter”. I get many odd looks, and it’s lots of fun. Of course, then I have to explain to them that I need a BA in anything to get certified, I’ve always liked History, and I figure why not get a degree in it. Especially when any degree is helpful.
Chapman so far has been a dream come true. Their registration proccess and welcoming attitude have been so amazing that it makes me want to cry. I’ve never felt so wanted by an institution in all my life, and after all the denials and struggles to register at community college, it’s been amazing to feel liked. I’ve looked carefully at making a custom minor for myself there, in Deaf Studies. All I’m waiting for is to submit my plan to the accademic council. Here’s the proposal I’m sending them: I hope it works!!! I’ll keep you posted on what happens with this, and on any really cool stuff I learn along the way.
To whom it may concern:
I am interested in pursuing a custom minor in Deaf Studies from Chapman University. I believe that with my course work from Mt. San Antonio College, supplemented by some of the upper-division course work from Chapman, I will be able to achieve a relevant degree in this subject from your university. These are the classes I propose to use toward that minor:
Lower Division: (10 units total)
American Sign Language 4 – 4 units. This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College. The course description is as follows: 72 hours lecture. Emphasis on expressive conversational skills in American Sign Language along with continued focus on grammatical and cultural features. CSU/UC transferable.
American Deaf Culture – 3 units. This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College. The course description is as follows: 72 hours lecture. American Deaf cultural norms, values, mores, and institutions. CSU transferable.
American Sign Language Structure – 3 units. This class has been taken through Mt. San Antonio College. The course description is as follows: 54 hours lecture. Linguistic Study of American Sign Language, including phonology, morphology, and syntax. Sociolinguistic issues will also be discussed. CSU/UC transferable.
Upper Division: (12 units total) – These classes would be taken at Chapman University. After the proposed class, I have included a description as to how I think each class will contribute to my understanding of Deafness. There are more than twelve units worth of classes listed, and I thought that the GE committee and myself could pick twelve units from this list so as to come up with the strongest combination of classes in this minor.
COM 480, Nonverbal Communication – 3 units. While American Sign Language is the preferred communication system used throughout the American Deaf community, some Deaf people have had limited exposure to ASL or have not learned to use it at all. On the other end of the spectrum are Deaf people who have not had much exposure to English and cannot use language alone to communicate with the hearing world around them. I believe that this class will help me better understand these groups of people and how they communicate with the world through methods other than language.
IES 413, Current Issues in Disability Studies and Services – 3 units. Deaf people don’t consider themselves disabled, yet use and benefit from many of the services available to disabled groups. By studying these services and issues, and also the viewpoint of non-disabled groups toward the disabled, I will have a better understanding of the options available for Deaf people living in America and how being grouped with the disabled effects their lives both positively and negatively.
Independent Study – 3 units. I propose concentrate on one of two topics. The first is to study George Veditz and the National Association of the Deaf’s quest to preserve American Sign Language for future generations during the early 1900’s through the use of film. As part of this topic, I would also like to study similar efforts today to preserve ASL on film. A second possibility would be to study Deaf art and literature and how it depicts and shapes the Deaf world view.
Internship – 3 units. I would like to intern with either the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), or Deaf West Theater. These are both premiere Deaf-run institutions in Southern California and I believe that interning at one of these places will give me practical insight into Deaf Culture and the Deaf way of life that cannot be achieved through classes alone. Both groups accept interns frequently.
This equals 22 units, one more than the 21 unit minimum required to qualify for a minor per the 2011-2012 Academic Catalogue. I have also looked carefully at the other language-based minors at Chapman and believe that these selections are in keeping with the theme of those programs.
In addition to this information, I would also like to present the requirements to several Deaf Studies minors from various colleges across America. I believe they will show you that the course of study above is consistent with established programs across the nation.
Gallaudet University, the premier institute for the Deaf, includes:
- American Sign Language courses
- Deaf Culture
- American Sign Language Structure
- Disability Studies
- Introduction to Deaf View/Image Art
Rochester Institute of Technology, an institution allied with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf:
- American Sign Language courses
- Deaf Culture in America
- Linguistics of American Sign Language
- Special Topics: Deaf Art and Cinema
- Oppression in the Lives of Deaf People
University of Southern Maine includes:
- American Sign Language courses
- Introduction to the Deaf World (Deaf Culture)
- ASL Linguistics
- Research Internship
- Deaf Art, Film, and Theater
Boston University includes:
- American Sign Language courses
- History and Culture of the Deaf
- American Sign Language Structure
- Field Experience
- Deaf Literature and ASL Folklore
Thank you so much for your consideration in allowing me to take this minor. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to make this decision easier.
Casey E. Hamilton
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!!
I just got word a few days ago that I got into Chapman University, which I’m so thrilled about, I can’t even tell you!! They like me, they really like me!
While this doesn’t exactly have to do with sign, it does get me one step closer to getting a BA, which gets me one step closer to being certified as an interpreter. I just thought I’d like to share the good news. 🙂
In the late 1600’s, an extended family from Weald, England settled on the island of Martha’s Vineyard in New England. The family carried a strong hereditary deafness gene, and as they married and intermarried, the rate of deaf people born on the island rose steadily. By the 1700’s almost everyone on the island had a deaf family member or two. Because of the high rate of deafness, the society on the island was completely different from mainstream, mainland society.
Mainland New England at this time was generally a terrible place for deaf people to live. Many people believed that deafness was a punishment from God. While the families of deaf children may have developed home signs, mainstream society could not understand these rudimentary signs, usually only good for expressing basic needs and requests, and different from home to home. Scholars debated about whether a deaf person could reason and learn like a hearing person. There were almost no career opportunities for deaf adults. The best they could hope for was to be trained to do manual labor for someone else’s business.
The prospects for deaf people on Martha’s Vineyard were completely different. Many of the former residents of the island were interviewed, and they paint an idyllic picture of what it was like to live in Martha’s Vineyard during this time. Because everyone had a deaf family member, everyone in the community knew sign language. Deaf people were farmers, store clerks, anything they wanted to be. Hearing people would sign to each other over the large expanses the island farms created, a deaf person could walk into a store and the clerk would always know sign. Deaf people were even elected to high political office, becoming mayors and council members for the island, a thing unheard of in the rest of the country. When telling stories about the community, the people who were being interviewed could only remember after much prompting if the people they were talking about were hearing or deaf.
The rare deaf/hearing equality experienced in Martha’s Vineyard is still remarkable today. In a society where hearing people are ignorant about deaf issues and can be very rude, a place like Martha’s Vineyard seems particularly wonderful. The equality that was shared by everyone, and the prejudices about deaf people that didn’t exist, make the little island community seem like the perfect place. Many deaf people consider it the ultimate utopia.
Ironically, the opening of the first deaf school in Hartford, Connecticut was a big reason why the hereditary deafness on the island petered out. Many deaf people from the island attended the school, met and married other deaf people who’s deafness wasn’t hereditary, and lived and had children near the school on the mainland of New England. As more and more of the population moved away, less and less deaf children were born on the island. In 1952, hereditary deafness died on the island with the death of Katie West. Though the community is gone today, it’s signs live on. Children attending the Hartford school mixed their signs in with the French Sign Language Laurent Clerc brought with him from Paris, creating much of the uniquely beautiful American Sign Language that exists today.
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.
I’ve been doing this blog for over a year now, and I think it’s high time there was some signing going on. My teacher asked us to sign an embarrassing moment that had happened to us, and it had to involve either food or liquid. I’m pretty proud of the video, and I thought I’d share it. There’s one place where I get a little flummoxed, but otherwise I think it’s great. The transcript is below for everyone who’s “ASL Challenged”. Thanks for watching!!
long time ago, I worked at a Dinner Theater. You know, people go in and sit down and eat and when they’re finished they watch a show? Yeah. I was a bus girl. I filled people’s water glasses, I gave people bread baskets, and I took away everyone’s dirty plates. I was busy all the time, always running around. I didn’t have time to take a dirty plate, walk all the way to the kitchen with it, and then do it all again. Instead, I had a tray. I would place it at the end of the table and put all the dirty dishes there. When everyone was finished, I would carefully pick up the tray and walk to the kitchen with it.
One night I was running around like usual, and I heard the music start, I heard the show start. I hadn’t picked up my tray yet! I ran into the dining room and picked it up as quickly as I could, but I wasn’t very careful. As I stood up, the tray slid backwards and crashed to the floor. Plates went flying everywhere and food went flying everywhere. Everyone’s head snapped in my direction as people picked up their feet to avoid being hit by the flying food. I was standing there all red faced when the lights went out. I had to sit there in the darkness, picking up all the plates, and cleaning up all the food.
My boss was a funny guy. At the end of the night he came up to me and said, “Oh, poor you. You had a bad night. Here’s a soda.”
I thought, “Really? I made this horrible mistake and you’re giving me soda? Wow.”
Thank you, Thank you!!
ately, I’ve found myself dreaming in Sign. I’ll be sitting there in a dream and someone will walk up to me and start signing, and I’ll start signing back to them. One night I dreamed that my dad was signing to me, but he was using some dialect I couldn’t understand and I kept having to ask him to sign it again. The oddest people in my dreams have only known sign: Librarians, check-out people at the supermarket, my Music teacher (that’s ironic, right?), random strangers passing by on the street. The best part is, I’m usually fluent in ASL without effort in my dreams. Yay! If only it were that way in real life…
I poked around a little on line and saw that it’s pretty common for people learning a language, or who have previously learned a language, to dream in it. I wonder why we do that? Some people claim that it’s because we’re studying a language seriously, but I don’t think that can be true in all cases. I’ve frequently had sign dreams during the summertime when I’m not taking classes at all. I’m hoping it really means that ASL is seeping into my consciousness a little more.
No matter why it’s happening, I’m kind of excited that it is. Sign is just as fun when you’re sleeping as when you’re awake. Trust me, I know.