Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Say it like you mean it.

There are definitely some funny moments when you're dealing with deaf culture. The ASL influence on the culture is that people are very, very blunt and it's always a good time when you're watching someone new to the culture experience that. And by blunt, I mean about everything. There's just no...prevarication...in ASL. There isn't any way to circumlocute your way around saying, "Yes, that dress makes you look fat." (Ahem. I'd like points for prevarication and circumlocute, please. Two words you'll never see in ASL, by the way). Anyway, there's no polite way for saying stuff. You just tell it like it is. "You look fat in that dress." It's not intended to be rude or hurtful. It's the nature of the language. You can kind of only say exactly what you mean.

But there are other odd little things, too. I don't remember if I blogged about this before, and if I wasn't an utterly lazy woman I'd click on my archives and figure it out, but I grew up doing a lot of things that I thought were normal that it turns out...not so much. For example, I didn't realize that everybody doesn't flick the lights or bang on tables to get people's attention. And it used to be that if I wanted people to move out of my way, I just put my hands on them and moved them. My husband says I still do this sometimes but I don't believe him.

There are odd turns of phrase I picked up, too. I called my sister a few months ago after a conversation with my husband and said, "When you need to buy food, where do you go?"

"The food store."

"Ha! That's what I said, too. Did you know no one else goes to the food store? They say they're going to the grocery store."

"What?"

"I know! We've been ASL'd!"

The idea that other people don't call it "the food store" surprised my brother, too.

And we keep our eyes open during prayers too, because we're used to seeing them signed. That still discomfits my husband. (Points for discomfit, please.) And on the subject of all things holy, sacrament meeting in a deaf ward/branch is the LOUDEST CHURCH AROUND. Parents have no idea if their kids are being noisy or not so there's no shushing. One time I was sitting in sacrament meeting and I kept hearing this periodic, ethereal singing. I couldn't for the life of me figure it out. There would just be this kind of angelic, wordless "Aah ah ahhhh..." series of song notes. I tried to figure out if there was some correlation to whatever the speaker was saying, but no....just these random spurts of singing. Finally, I realized what was going on. A little girl had an Ariel Little Mermaid doll and every time she pressed it, Ariel sang. You know that part where Ursula is capturing her voice in a seashell necklace? And Ariel sings, "Aaah ah ah, ah ah aaah!" I felt better that I wasn't hearing imaginary voices.

One of my favorite things is deaf applause. Do you know how deaf people clap? They stick their hands in the air and flutter their fingers so you can SEE how they feel, since hearing is moot. It's pretty cool.

In fact, I'm fluttering my fingers at you right now...

18 comments:

LisAway said...

That is so interesting! A food store. :) At least everyone knows what you mean. I do some things like this now where I don't say it the English way but translate from the Polish. It's weird.

And I love the applause.

Oh, and SERIOUS points to you for all the vocab here.

Debbie said...

I think you may have been cussing at me in this post. Several of these words I was very unfamiliar with:)
And I think each family develops these quirks - hearing or not. I remember when I met my husband, he would say things I would not understand at all. They would be family sayings he had heard all of his life.
The church idea is funny. I just can't imagine.

Alison Wonderland said...

I have a deaf cousin who's siblings didn't really learn to sign to begin with. And then his sister was called on an ASL mission. And then she married a guy who signs. I'm actually pretty jealous of them, there are times when signing would be really helpful.

And great vocab.

Kristina P. said...

This is so fascinating! Things I would never think of.

Heidi Ashworth said...

I'm fluttering my fingers back! (You don't have to be deaf to move people out of your way. If you are a person who is not an "audio" learner, despite hearing just fine, you grow up with your mother moving you b/c you just don't process it when she tells you to. Then YOU grow up being the kind who moves your kid--and other people, as well, for the same reasons you did. I grew up in a house full of audio learners and it felt very rude to have people "move" me--but I have had to do that for my non-audio son.)

Erin said...

That is so cool to learn about!

And I think food store is much truer than grocery store anyway.

Kazzy said...

Fascinating stuff! We have a girl in our class who is afraid of clapping so we do "jazz hands" or finger fluttering instead. Thanks for all of your insight.

Kimberly said...

I can't comment. I'm too busy being intimidated by your phenomenal grasp of the English language!

DeNae said...

Full points for prevarication, circumlocute, discomfit, and giving me an excuse to shove people out of the way when I'm pretty sure I had dibs on that last brownie.

As for that food store thing, at our house we call it "Domino's". I guess it's a cultural difference.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Oh, DeNae always kills me. And I have to say I'm a little jealous of being deaf in Sacrament meeting. If I couldn't hear my own kids or anyone else's, I probably wouldn't have to repent every Sunday after church. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

Most of the wards I've lived in here in the East have had a Deaf Branch attached to them. I love the bluntness; it's so refreshing.

codadiva said...

Food Store, Food Store!!! Yes that's what we called it too. Makes sense since that is what you are buying there. Thanks for the nice memories.

Chris said...

Love the fluttering! :)

April said...

Where is my dictionary when I need it!!! RATS! And now I'm off to the bathroom....but not to bathe...I'm going to brush my hair...so am I going to the brushroom?

Melanie's Sister said...

And because our parents couldn't hear but had exceptional speech, they sometimes mispronounced things. We inherited those mispronunciations. For example, I was well into my 20s before I learned that "Neapolitan ice cream" is not pronounced "Neapolition."

myimaginaryblog said...

Our Primary has always used the finger-flutter for "reverent" applause -- I didn't know it was an ASL thing.

DeNae's comment made me laugh.

My 5-year-old calls all stores grocery stores.

I know that Ariel ah-ah-ah all too well because I once had a coworker who thought I resembled a Disney princess, so she would sing that every time she was near me. So, uh, thanks for reminding me of that. (But at least I've never had to listen to it in Church.) (And I'm long, long past my Disneyesque days, which I guess is a good thing.)

Emily said...

This was hilarious! And I know what you mean by a loud sacrament meeting! I attended the deaf ward once (long story, but David has deaf cousins) and it was the LOUDEST meeting ever! I also attended a deaf temple wedding ceremony.

SO DANG LOUD. HONESTLY.

I kept looking around the room at all the fluttering fingers and and listening to audible deaf speech and I thought, "Is this even legal to be THIS LOUD in the temple?"

Lara said...

This was very fascinating to read! Thanks for sharing.

I like food store better. I never sit down to eat my groceries. I only unload them and put them away. I eat food.