Instead of telling them I’m a sign language interpreter, I like to screw with people’s heads. I love to see whether they react differently to “interpreter” as opposed to “sign language interpreter” or “interpreter for the Deaf.” When I tell people I’m an interpreter, they inevitable ask what language. I can then say, “Sign language, American Sign Language” (like “Bond, James Bond”). When I ever-so-debonairly stress “American,” they usually ask, “Oh, isn’t sign language universal?” And BAM, that’s when I tell them it’s not!
This impresses upon them that:
1. An interpreter is an interpreter,
2. A signed language is a language, and
3. American Sign Language is not the only signed language.
What’s in a name? Oh so much.