Mi desarollo como int√©rprete triling√ľe

Yo sigo en aprender espa√Īol para que yo lo a√Īada a mis lenguas de interpretaci√≥n. Afortunadamente, a√ļn a este punto intermedio de mi desarollo, a veces yo puedo hacer un poco de interpretaci√≥n triling√ľe. Por ejemplo, quiz√°s yo interpreto para una cita m√©dica en esta manera: hay un m√©dico oyente que habla espa√Īol e ingles, un miembro de familia oyente que habla espa√Īol y el lenguaje de se√Īas, y un paciente sordo que usa el lenguaje de se√Īas americano. Cuando el m√©dico y el miembro de familia hablan con juntos, yo interpreto al paciente sordo lo que est√°n diciendo; cuando el paciente se√Īa, el miembro de familia comprende el paciente y yo interpreto al m√©dico en ingl√©s. Si a cualquier tiempo no entiendo el espa√Īol del m√©dico o del miembro de familia, este doctor es dispuesto a dec√≠rmelo en ingl√©s. !Se sale bien!


I continue to learn Spanish so that I can add it to my interpreting languages. Fortunately, even at this point in my development, sometimes I can do a bit of trilingual interpretation. For example, perhaps I interpret for a medical appointment in this way: there is a hearing doctor who speaks Spanish and English, a hearing family member who speaks Spanish and sign language, and the Deaf patient who uses American Sign Language. When the doctor and the family member speak with each other, I interpret to the Deaf patient what they are saying; when the patient signs, the family member understands the patient and I interpret for the physician in English. If at any time do not understand the doctor’s or family member’s Spanish, this doctor is willing to say it to me in English. It works out well!

Paul & Tina’s Signalong: Haters gonna hate

I am not as offended or concerned about Paul & Tina’s Signalong as some people are. I think¬†exposure to ASL can be a good thing, regardless of who’s signing. Personal experience: the first time I was truly impressed with the beauty of ASL was at a monologue competition in 1985, when¬†a hearing girl spoke and signed a monologue from¬†Children of a Lesser God. I have no idea, in retrospect, how good she was at signing; all I remember is I thought it was beautiful. The fact that she spoke and signed at the same time made it accessible to me. I don’t think I would have gotten the same impression at the time if I had seen a Deaf woman delivering the same monologue, even if it were interpreted. I might have been more intimidated than entertained. I might have seen more differences than similarities. I might not have been ready for the culture shock.

If you read the comments on Paul & Tina’s Signalong Facebook page post about taking down their donation site,¬†you’ll see a variety of views, both supportive and critical, both from hearing and Deaf people. I think this dialogue is a good thing. The comments from d/Deaf people were¬†more¬†supportive¬†than those from interpreters, though, and I think that’s telling.¬†If Deaf signers want to be offended by Paul & Tina, and educate them about their language and culture, that is their job. It’s not ASL/English interpreters’ job to be offended for¬†Deaf people.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish

Where you start isn’t necessarily where you end up. It’s not Paul & Tina’s job to be Deaf, and they’re not trying to be. They’re just being themselves and having fun with it. They’re not the be all, end all;¬†they’re just doing their thing. Where people take it from there is their business. Time will tell whether future interpreters might have first thought ASL was fun by watching their videos. Eventually, we learn from Deaf people if we get that far. And if we¬†don’t get that far, what’s the harm?

Why there is no “Google Gesture” sign-to-speech translator

Aside from the irresponsible journalism that propagated this story in the first place, the basis for the concept is fundamentally flawed. There cannot be such thing as a wristband a signer can wear that will translate their signed language into spoken language; why? Because signed language is not just on the hands! Signed language is on the face and the body as well. The grammar of signed language is made through eyebrow, mouth, cheek, and even nose movements. Signed language is made with head nods and shakes, head and body tilts, and even shoulder shrugs. Anyone who ever took an introductory course in ASL should know this.

There is one other important flaw in the concept of a gesture-to-speech translation machine, and that is the notion that there is one “sign language.” No, folks, “sign language” is not universal! No sir, no ma’am. Even if Google were able to take input from a human interface device located on a signer’s body–even if that included all the points on the face and body necessary to read signed language–Google would have to add hundreds of signed languages into their Google Translate engine. Language is culture-bound, just as gesture is culture-bound. I’d like to see how this supposed “Google Gesture” would translate the thumbs up gesture, which can mean something like “up yours” in countries other than the United States.

American Sign Language (note that the A in ASL stands for American; i.e., not universal) is a much richer and more complex language than people give it credit for; in fact, so are all the signed languages in the world. Until enough people learn to appreciate the sophistication, complexity, and diversity of signed languages, we will continue to swallow false stories like this hook, line, and sinker.