Why I don’t tell people I’m a sign language interpreter

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.

Author: Daniel Greene

I facilitate communication between Deaf and hearing people, and I teach people American Sign Language (ASL) and interpreting. Apart from doing the work I love, my greatest joys are family & friends, entertainment, food, photography, and travel.

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