General Question

Pandora's avatar

In sign language, is each word followed exactly?

Asked by Pandora (32120points) July 19th, 2022
11 responses
“Great Question” (3points)

I was watching a singing video where there was a sign language interpreter and even though I don’t know sign language I saw her use some hand movements for certain words that were repeated so I knew what to look for, but it felt that in some long sentences she would cut down the words before getting to that keyword. So I wondered if in sign language they do an abbreviated version like we do in text. LOL, Nmd. I’m not talking about spelling out words, I mean hand and arm movements.

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seawulf575's avatar

Sign language is very subtle. It shows things and actions in a way words don’t. It would not follow word for word with what is being spoken. However someone that understood sign language would understand the meaning of the words.

But here’s another consideration for the example given. Why are they showing sign language on a singing video? The person that would need sign language couldn’t hear the music anyway.

filmfann's avatar

In ASL (American Sign Language), word order is different than spoken English.
For example, instead of “You get the ball” they may say ” Ball you get”.

canidmajor's avatar

Very few languages translate directly across with word order and syntax, sign language is no different.

raum's avatar

American Sign Language is its own language. With its own grammar and syntax, separate from English.

SEE (Signing Exact English) Sign is closer to English. Same grammar and syntax.

Pandora's avatar

@seawulf575 It was to a Disney movie Encanto. I assume people who are hearing impaired would still want to know what is being said. The songs are most of the dialogue.

Pandora's avatar

@filmfann & @Canidmajor Thanks. That makes sense.

@Raum, Hmm, I thought no matter the language they would use all the same Movements, except for when spelling a certain word out. Like, if embracing yourself means hugging, then it would be the same in French or Spanish, or Asian languages.

seawulf575's avatar

@Pandora That is what CC is for. I’d just wonder why you would have someone signing the entire thing.

raum's avatar

@Pandora Common assumption, but incorrect. There are over three hundred sign languages used around the world.

ASL is derived from and most similar to the sign language used in France (LSF).

raum's avatar

@seawulf575 If you grew up deaf, it’s most likely that ASL is your primary language. It’s an entirely separate language from English. With its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax.

If you lost your hearing as an adult, CC and ASL might be more interchangeable.

I guess it comes down to whether you’d prefer to watch a movie in your native language or in your second language?

filmfann's avatar

Before I met my wife, I learned SEE sign. This led my friend to introduce me to my (profoundly deaf from birth but doesn’t sign) wife. I was surprised at the differences between SEE sign and ASL. Further exploring deaf culture, I found an interesting detail.
Deaf people who sign in one language can adapt to other languages very quickly. This may seem obvious, but signing in other languages is very different.

linguaphile's avatar

Deaf Linguist here…

As the others said, ASL and English have different structures. The syntax, morphology, phonetics, even the pragmatics- are all different. So, at risk of coming across as harsh… it is what it is… good translations are very difficult, and most of what you see on YouTube is pretty much butchered signs created by people high on the Dunning Kreuger effect.

To elaborate a bit: Spoken languages are more linear in that you must ‘wait’ for information to reach the ear in sequence to get information. If you think about the biology of the ears and the physics of sound- they work together perfectly. Speech produced with air… sound waves… ear anatomy… perfect fit. Information arrives through the ear in layered sequences (music is 3D after all). The layers include speech, pitch, tone, and volume, and more. The sound distinctions can be as precise as .03 seconds in length or 2 Hz of pitch change.

In signed languages, worldwide, there are features that can be expressed simultaneously because the biology of the eye is different than the ears. Eyes use sequence, yes, but more can be conveyed in a shorter period of time. Think about seeing a picture—your eyes don’t need to scan or sweep the picture- you can capture it as a whole in one millisecond. Because of that, we can convey meaning with our hands, yes… but also our eyebrows, eyelids, nose, cheeks, lips, chin, shoulders, torso, and the different levels and depth of the space in front of us—all at once—along with the speed, distance, direction, and tension of our movements. That comes naturally to Deaf children- it’s their reality.

So… if someone said, excitedly during a basketball game, “He got that basket!” someone in ASL could, in just two signs, convey the same phrase above, but also include where the ball came from, how far it traveled, how it went into the basket, the attitude of excitement, the attitude of the player, how close of a call the throw was, and might include how the player jumped—but…. because translating is an inexact science, and can’t catch all the modifiers, the translation might be, “He into-basket-ball-went-in.” and, frankly, to most people would sound stupid, when it’s not. That’s one of the roots of the misconceptions about ASL.

I am profoundly Deaf, LOVE signed songs, and translate songs myself. I used to play the drums and have friends who play the piano. If you think about it… music is all vibrations to begin with. It’s physical, not just aural—you can feel it, not just hear it. I can see the rhythm in words, I understand syllabication and rhymes, so why wouldn’t I enjoy lyrics? But yes… it’s difficult to translate. Here’s a totally kick ass, but still inexact translation

Thanks for reading—

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