A lot of Deaf people don't read English?!?

ASL does have a different syntax and structure than English–it’s not “broken English” but a different language. Wikipedia has a nice summary, and here’s something more detailed.

I also wonder how much closed-captioning is used either by people who have developed hearing loss later in life and those with some residual hearing versus those who are Deaf.

:confused: Why in the world are you telling me this? Of course ASL is a different language from English. It’s not even similar to English in its grammar. Also, did you know that it’s most commonly communicated in a completely different way than most languages, using combinations of gestures rather than the voice? I’m sorry, since obviously you think you’ve stumbled on something new and different here, but you’re not telling me something I didn’t know. And I’m not sure why you quoted “broken English”, since my use of the term was in reference to, well, broken English. As written by people who aren’t native speakers of the language.

That’s kind of the point, now, isn’t it? If ASL were somehow similar to English, one wouldn’t expect ASL speakers to have a difficult time learning to read and write English. That’s what my whole post was about. I guess next time, I’ll specify that ASL and English are different languages, but that’s sort of like carefully noting in a thread on Latin grammar that English and Latin are different languages. It doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult distinction to me.

I used to help out a lot with homework of other deaf kids. They can -read-, e.g., they’re not illiterate, they can read & recognize the individual words that correspond to some ASL signs but their English comprehension is on the Pidgin level. Good enough for everyday stuff, but horrible for office communications & academic reading. The students tripped up on the specifics every time and had to do a lot of guesswork.

As for CCs, pictures speak a -lot- of words. They can get the gist of vulgar English well enough to follow a storyline for most (but not all) movies. Even I have extreme difficulty with dry dialogue & “sophiscated” humor–I don’t like movies that aren’t visually oriented (one reason I like anime so much as do many deaf people, I suppose).

The best analogy I can use is that it’s a lot like us Americans reading Spanish. We’ve picked up enough Spanish and we can extrapolate enough Spanish spellings to English spellings to get the gist of a lot of simple reading. Dittos for the deaf reading English.

And anyone who says ASL isn’t a real language doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It was my interpretation that you were dismissing ASL syntax as “broken English,” not acknowledging that is a different language. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

For anybody who’s interested, Oliver Sacks wrote a (heavily footnoted) book called Seeing Voices (the link is to Amazon). I read it quite a few years ago and found it to be interesting. He gives a lot of the history of education (and some stuff that can’t really be called education) of deaf children in the United States and England. There is also a fiar bit of discussion about ASL and other sign languages and their relationship to spoken languages.

So, it seems the answer is pretty much yes, or at least not very well? Did not know this. Wow.

Nitpick: I believe, and I could be wrong, it’s been a long time since I read it, Nick wasn’t born deaf, but had a childhood illness rendering him so.

Warning! anecdote ahead.
I went to grade school with a profoundly hearing impaired girl who had been mainstreamed. (At that time, most children who were in anyway “different” were hidden from the rest of us.) She learned to read and write faster than I did. (undiagnosed, dyxlexia.)
I don’t remember if she signed or lip-read. She did speak, but with, for want of a better discription, a “deaf accent.”

Glad to see so many truly good posts and people with experience with the deaf. It seemed many of those I knew rarely had many “hearing” friends. When I said

I did not mean it as any form of slight as, like I said, some of my best friends are deaf. :smiley:
What I meant was that it seemed to me with knowing a few deaf people very well that the thinking/logic/social synoptic view was somehow a little different. I suppose that social skills will be lacking when someone cannot overhear conversations and discussions on a day-to-day basis and interaction with other kids and members of the opposite sex are limited; at least compared to many hearing kids.
I realize I am having a difficult time conveying the intent here and ask for your patience. I suspect most of what I observed was social in mature and off-putting to me at the time. I would often get pulled in as a interpreter when out at the bar and one of my friends wanted to meet a young lady. Often times I would have to rephrase, reconstruct or out right ignore the actual words he used and relay the intent to the lady. At times he insisted I translate word-for-word and it got fairly embarrassing.
I have wondered at times, considering I “hear” my words in my head (and when I’m smart I listen to them before speaking) what does thinking sound like? . If you don’t know what a word, or anything, sounds like, what is taking place in a deaf persons head when contemplating something. I know that it does not affect the reasoning process because we have had many good debates and I have lost more than a few chess games.
Again, I apologize for the awkward nature of the post but it is an area in which I have always had a vague curiosity and lack of clarity based on my experiences.
On an aside: has anyone else had the opportunity to go out drinking with deaf friends? Do you friends “slur” their words when drunk? My friends did and it was both funny and difficult at the same time. :smiley:

Damn! Meant to add Children of a Lesser God to those movies mentioned that give what I felt was an accurate depiction of those I have know. And an earlier post mentioned the flow of ASL and I must agree. Often it is truly beautiful to watch and often much more expressive than the spoken word.

BTW, if you’ve never been present when two deaf people have a very intense argument, you are really missing out on the whole experience. A flurry of gestures and endless facial expression…in silence!

Actually, I look away when I see two people signing a conversation of any intensity. It just feels to me like watching that is the equivalent of deliberately eavesdropping on someone’s spoken conversation.

I took a seminar on working with the deaf, and we were told that this was the proper thing to do. Also, if you are in a room where people are having a conversation in sign, and you are fluent, then you are supposed to let them know that you can understand them.

When you are at their apartment and they are standing five feet in front of the chair in which you are sitting, looking away would’ve required a dislocation of some vertebrae. In fact, they didn’t care as we were long time friends and they fought all the time (and knew the speed they go at faaarr exceeds my ability to follow). In fact, it was so often that one of those guys soon became a roommate of ours and I learned it by living it. I haven’t the advance benifit of a seminar. As a rule, when out and about, I too follow obvious rules of etiquette. When I’m with friends, we point and laugh.
But thanks for the pointers.
When out with your “hearing” friends and in their home, do you get up and walk out of the house when they have a brief disagreement as well or is this special treatment for your special friends?

Did I quote you? I’m not talking about you or your friends, or your situation. All I was saying is that what** jay jay ** says he would do **if he saw people signing furiously ** is what is recommended. I’m glad that you’re so into deaf culture that these things are obvious to you (seven gold star stickers for you!), but that doesn’t mean that they are to everyone.

Quit trying to turn this into some sort of anti deaf thing, and quit looking for ways to be offended.

Well, I don’t really know enough deaf people to be able to brag about the tremendous length of my metaphorical Deaf Culture penis, but I guess I don’t see why people have some special right to be able to speak in public places and have everyone around pretend not to hear them, deaf or not. (Well, I guess it’s not really hearing if it’s sign language, but you know . . . .) Does the same rule apply to other languages? If I hear people speaking Spanish loudly do I have to let them know that I can understand them? When I’m in places where not much English is spoken, I certainly don’t assume that there’s no one around who can understand me. I don’t see why speaking a minority language automatically grants you that privilege - and in particular why it should put some onus on everyone else to deliberately try not to notice an argument. It certainly isn’t good manners to eavesdrop on a public argument and then remark on it later. But I don’t see why being deaf grants you any special dispensation about the general social rule of keeping your business to yourself. When people have a loud argument in English, I don’t know of any social rule that I plug my ears or walk away to avoid hearing it. If someone is speaking ASL and they are under the impression that they can’t be overheard, I don’t see where it’s anyone else’s problem and I certainly don’t see how anyone could imagine that someone’s argument places others in a position of being socially obligated not to notice. In fact, it strikes me as a tad condescending to assume that deaf people aren’t capable of practicing the ordinary social behaviors that are expected of everyone else.

I needn’t look far. I simply meant to add that the beauty that is ASL is also amazing at the speed of argument. The snooty tone of “I was told it is polite to look away” struck me as more serious and condescending than the observation called for. I have seen what truly rude behavior towards the deaf looks like and am sensitive to the implication that I was being inconsiderate to my friends. If the situation had been in a public place between people I didn’t know (or know well) I totally agree but it seems obvious that this is a rule that applies to anyone, anywhere, hearing or otherwise.
If I misjudged the tone, I regret my response. If I didn’t, it stands.

PS- Thanks for the stars! Seven! And Gold no less!

The fact is, though, that I was responding to a very general observation on your part, which included no backstory about how these people you were observing “arguing furiously” were your friends or even known to you. I was only noting what I do when I see two (or more) deaf people having a conversation.

And Excalibre, there is a bit of a difference between two people speaking Spanish and two people signing. The Spanish-speaking conversationalists can whisper and generally not be heard unless you’re deliberately straining to eavesdrop. The signers have no such recourse to keep their conversation private.

You are right to do so and had no way of knowing the conditions that existed when I was so amused. It is a subject near to my heart and I over-responded to your general, and typically correct, statement.
I rub my closed hand on my chest in a circular motion.

So have I. My college is the home of NTID, and you can find lots of rude behavior there.


You did misjudge. AFAIK, jay jay wasn’t talking about an argument amongst friends, but a public situation (and on preview, I see that I am right. Go me!) As Excalibre says, I’ve never heard anyone alert Spanish speakers that they are understood, so many people might not know what ettiquitte applies to overhearing a signed conversation. It would never have occured to me to let anyone speaking any language out in public know that I could understand them before learning about it. I thought it was interesting, so I shared it. I’m not trying to admonish anyone.

The stars were half off, so I threw in a few extra.

Well, reference was particularly made earlier to loud conversations in sign language. I’ve seen arguments in ASL; they’re hard to miss - and I imagine that if two people, conversely, lean together and keep their gestures small, an effect fairly similar to whispering is possible.

Certainly, deliberately eavesdropping on a private conversation is rude. But when people are having “noisy” arguments - whether with sound or not - it tends to be hard to miss, and I don’t see any obligation on the part of others to try to miss them.

To expand on my first statement:
My good friend J and his roommate and my acuantence H were arguing. J let fly with a salvo (none of which I could follow) and was met with an equally intence flurry from H. Then J let fly with another batch…BUT…following his last gesture, J turns his back to H, crosses his arms and shuts his eyes!
I was blown away! He just shut him up!! No retort was possible as J could not be reached! That was one of the funniest and most unexpected aspects to this relationship and I still laugh about it.