Friday, January 17, 2014
I really appreciate hearing people who know some signs--how they use what they know when they're around me. I know many--if not most--professionals I've been to, in addition to hiring an interpreter, seem to try a few phrases and work from there. They often ask me or my interpreter what the sign for such and such is and so forth.
What happens though is actually pretty amusing. I mean, yes, I should be respectful, and I am. But many of their efforts don't always come across quite the way it was meant to be.
My grandmother died a few years ago. I was able to attend her funeral and it was nice to be around family. As I sat down to wait for the service to begin, my younger sister sits down and slowly, with an evil expression, signs, I'M SATAN! Now, that's one being you do not want to have attending a funeral. (She meant to sign PARANOID about her weight.) After the service I was pretty broken up. My mom saw me crying and signed "ITS OK. GRANDMA NOW WITH QUEEN." I didn't even know she was British. (She meant to sign LORD.)
My DBT trainer has worked well with me and sometimes inquires about how to sign certain things. She asked to learn BIRTHDAY. A week later it was my birthday and my trainer wasted no time calling me a HAPPY MOTHERF*****." It was an honest mistake, but one that will last a lifetime in my head.
Finally, I taught a group of ASL students the sign for MORNING. Six out of 8 came back and started signing "F*** off" instead of a gentler "GOOD MORNING." Careful now.
So, learning signs can be fun, silly, and exciting. But beware--if you're not careful, you may end up wishing and calling people every name in the book. And I don't mean the Bible.