Deaf culture

Since I received the scary news that I may be losing my hearing, I’ve become interested in Deaf culture, and I would like to know the answer to this question. People tend to giggle when I ask this, so let me just say that my interest is 100% in earnest. If you are deaf, is it rude to talk with your hands full?

More mundanely, how does one communicate in sign language if one of one’s hands is encumbered? Must one divest oneself of packages or whatever before attempting to sign? How is this problem usually handled?

Handy, in particular, I hope you can help me out with this.

If she doesn’t find the thread, Matt, check with Rowan, also. She isn’t deaf, but did attend Gaulladet (sp?) University and is well-versed in deaf culture, not to mention fluent in ASL. And so is Monty, for that matter.

pl, handy is a guys name.

I’ve seen my sign language interpreter sign with her hands full and I often can’t understand her. Or I get misinformation. Same with with people who speak with their mouth full.

I’d say try to keep your hands free.

Sorry, handy, bad wording on my part–the “she” referred to Rowan, not you. I know you’re a guy–look at the sex thread you started. :wink:

While I am not deaf, I have 1 or 2 comments. You may find the Gaulladet University website very interesting and informative.

There is a lot of information, plus their DPN10 site, which commemorates the Deaf President Now! movement of the late 80’s – one of the watershed moments for Deaf Culture in this country.

Also, I recommend “Seeing Voices” by Oliver Sacks to learn more about the differences between the pre-lingually and post-lingually deaf (those who went deaf before they learned to speak, and those after).

Yep-- that’s when I was there, when we kicked out the president. It’s fun being a campus radical.

No, it’s not rude to talk with your hands full. People do it all the time. You need just one hand to sign, because all the signs are done with an active hand and a base hand. The active hand is the signer’s dominant hand. The hand shape in ASL are either marked or unmarked. The unmarked shapes are more “generic,” like an open hand, a fist, an index finger extended. There are seven unmarked handshapes altogether. In any sign, either both hands have the same shape, or your base hand has an unmarked shape. It makes it pretty easy to understand one-handed signing.

When people are driving, they usually sign with one hand, and steer with the other, using the steering wheel or their leg as a base, instead of having a base hand.

You can sign with mittens on.

Facial expression is more important than hands, really. In fact, it’s pretty easy to understand someone wearing mittens, but almost impossible to understand someone wearing sunglasses.

It’s considered rude to sign while wearing sunglasses, but to have your hands full-- no.

In fact, you’ll find that people with Usher’s syndrome who needs to wear tinted lenses, usually choose the orange lenses over the sunglass-type lenses. Hearing people with RP usually wear the dark lenses, though.

It’s also considered very rude to look away from someone who is talking to you.

And it’s considered rude not to ask something directly. Euphemisms and “beating around the bush” are considered secretive and offensive.

And it’s rude not to answer a question when you know the answer.

It’s also very rude to get up in the cafeteria and not ask all the people at your table if they want you to bring them anything.

Here’s my favorite: flickering a lightswitch is a good way to get people’s attention, but it is considered rude to do this to a superior. In other words, a professor could do this to get a student’s attention, but a student would never do this to get a professor’s attention.

Shopping is still cheaper than therapy. --my Aunt Franny

I read recently that it is considered very rude in deaf culture to leave a room without telling everyone in the room you are doing so. Is this true, and if it is what is the basis for this?

Matt: I’ve posted this link before in another thread, but please bear with me: . It’s a way of writing any Sign Language and, IMHO, for an adult just learning Sign Language, this is an invaluable skill–especially for note-taking.

[[I read recently that it is considered very rude in deaf culture to leave a room without telling everyone in the room you are doing so. Is this true, and if it is what is the basis for this?]]

Pretty much. Sometimes it’s not practical, like in a big auditorium, where you’re not really “with” everyone there anyway. If you and I were eating dinner in the cafeteria with several friends, nad I got up to get more Coke, and while I was up, you said good-bye to everyone else and left, that would be very rude. Even if you and i had just met and weren’t really friends yet, it would still be rude. It’s also rude to leave a party without saying good-bye to everyone.

It’s also rude to leave some place abruptly. When you first say good-bye, you’re not really expected to actually leave for another hour or so.

The basis is probably the fact that hearing people, including family members have so often just not bothered to tell Deaf children things. All of the directness, honesty and information-sharing that are so valued in Deaf culture are probably all related to this.

Shopping is still cheaper than therapy. --my Aunt Franny

I would also just like to point out that as a hearing person if someone got up from a table and left without saying a word…
Id think that was pretty rude too!

It sounds like most of these things are pretty much common sense.
Treat people with respect. For example if someone is signing to you and you look away you can no longer “hear” what they are saying. If someone obviously stops listening to me, i expect an explaination.
But Rowan, many of those customs are intriguing and make me think.
Thank you!

So Rowan, rude is throwing something at a deaf person to get their attention. But lately my friend who works with deaf people all the time, has now taken to banging on the sofa or the floor so the vibrations get my attention. She said she learned this because her deaf clients get her attention that way.Do you think that is rude to get a deaf person’s attention that way?

I do it-- and Deaf people do it to me.

If it bothers you, tell people it bothers you-- but you’ll have to tell a lot of people, because it’s such a common thing. I’d have to say anything that common isn’t rude.

Also, throwing something is acceptable in some situations-- like when we’re hanging out in the dorm lounge at two am. It wouldn’t be something you’d do at a Bar Mitzvah luncheon, however.

And the getting up without saying good-bye I guess I didn’t explain carefully.

Suppose Handy and I are eating lunch with a couple of friends, and PLD comes by. I introduce him to everyone. Later, he gets up to go talk to a friend who is Deaf-Blind, and they end up going through the food line together. If Handy suddenly realizes he forgot the book he needs for his next class, and needs to run home for it, he would get up, and make a point of going over to say good-bye to PLD before he left the cafeteria.

Shopping is still cheaper than therapy. --my Aunt Franny

I’m sure you can answer this… One of the problems with dabbling in sign language on my own without so much as my used-to-help-with-deaf-kids exboyfriend to help me is that my dictionary is sometimes unclear. For example, it gives the same sign for “boring” as it does for “bored”. Obviously these are very different. How do you distinguish between them?

Also, is it considered wrong to say “to speak ASL” in the same way as I would say “to speak Spanish”? I mean, obviously you’re not actually speaking, but I do know that it’s not rude to use the metaphorical senses of “see” (as in “see what I mean?” or “see you soon”) when talking to a blind person.

I’ve heard that if you throw people from various cultures using differnet signing systems into a room they will quickly learn to communicate. If this is true there must be a high degree of similarity between the sign languages. Seems like the ultimate international language. Is what I heard BS? Is there an ISL?

The difference between “bored” and “boring” is facial expression and duration. You really need to find some native signers, or all this will just seem overwhelming. You should see whether Gallaudet has an immersion program you could attend. There are several during the summer that last anywhere from three to eight weeks.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying “speak ASL” in English, but personally, I would say “sign.” In ASL, you would use a sign that doesn’t describe oral language use.

There is an artificial language called “Gestuno,” but almost no one uses it. It’s a lot like Esperanto in that sense.

The reason that several Deaf people from different countries, thrown together, can communicate easily is not because they have many actual signs in common. There’re two reasons this happens.

The first reason is that most sign languages have a system of classifiers, and if you already understand how to use classifiers, learning another language’s system is not that difficult.

The second is that Deaf people have a life’s experience of trying to communicate without language to the hearing people around them. They are very, very skilled at it. If you haven’t seen a Deaf person pantomiming, you may not realize just how skilled at it they are. When you get two people with these skills, they almost don’t need to share a language.

Remember though, the situations you read about don’t involve communicating a lot of technical detail. They mostly involve sharing basic information, like “where’s the bathroom,” or telling personal anecdotes.

Shopping is still cheaper than therapy. --my Aunt Franny

I have heard of Gestuno, but it’s not like Esperanto. If I understand it correctly, it’s more like a pidgin than a whole language, like Esperanto. (Do I have to go into the statistics - 2 million speakers, 300 000 works of literature, largest convention in China’s history, etc?)

This is a good demonstration of an important point: grammar.

Many non-deaf people mistakenly think that there is a one-to-one relationship between English words and ASL signs. It is a real, living and breathing language with its own methods of forming various words (like plurals, or past and future tenses) from common roots.

Oh, wait a minute here, yes there is a one-one relationship between english & SEE [seeing exact english]. But not with ASL.SEE should be the choice for matt_mcl, at first as it’s easier to learn.

So, matt_mcl, like you, I also went thru the to be deafened period. This is no piece of cake.

As a matter of fact, what few people realize is that the deafened brain, noticing it’s lack of sound, creates some! Yep, it makes up stuff which can, & is, maddening. You can read about Beethovan as he went thru this wakko period. Voices are common.

Oh, be concerned about being politically correct later & if you need any assistance let me know, I’m all ears.

I like to worry about the etiquette now, so that I don’t piss anyone off before I really need to be in their good books :slight_smile: