Three lessons this interpreter is learning from teaching ASL

1. It takes patience and creativity to sign with people who know little sign language.

I have a new respect for Deaf people who take the time to sign with ASL students. Having more respect for Deaf people and more creativity in how I express myself is making me a better Deaf community member.

2. I’ve been doing it wrong.

Well, maybe not wrong, but there are things I never knew, such as that Y is considered a down letter; that is, Y is made by tilting the palm downward. I’m sure this is not a hard and fast rule; in fact, I can see even on the Signing Naturally DVD the language models do not always sign Y that way. Still, I never knew it ever tilted down at all. Now I see it in the way I and other signers spell the lexicalized #style and #yes. I also never knew that the sign WHEN meant what day, not what time. Again, I’m sure this is not a hard and fast rule, but I never knew it was a rule at all. Those are just two examples of several. Learning how to refine my signing is making me a better interpreter.

3. Now I see what my students have learned.

Since many of the interpreting students and working interpreters I teach have learned ASL with the Signing Naturally curriculum, I have a better idea of what they were taught. Knowing what my students have learned is making me a better interpreter trainer.

There is no ass to Rick — and four other symbols you mispronounce

As an interpreter, I go to many places where people call typographical symbols by the wrong names. It irks me, but I can’t say anything about it while I’m interpreting, so please hear me now as I correct some common errors.

@
This is an at sign, a.k.a. at symbol or simply at when spoken in an email address. It is not an ampersand.
&
This is an ampersand.
/
This is a slash. It is not a backslash.
\
This is a backslash.
*
This is an asterisk. If you don’t pronounce the s before the k, you risk offending Rick.

This is Rick. Unfortunately for him, there is no asterick.