How do I explain ASL dialects?

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sculleywr

Member
I have been raised in churches, and one specific church, since I was young. Now, my home church has a member here training people to interpret for the Deaf, in the hopes that we will be able to start a Deaf Ministry. When they started this, I was in Chattanooga, away from home. I come in a year later and start sitting in where they do the training during the service. They train by having the person standing and interpreting the service in the back of the balcony (there is a speaker in the balcony, making it loud enough to be easily understood). The lady with the most experience (about 15 years as a certified interpreter) corrects mistakes as they go along.

Not that I have any issue with this, as it is the best they can do right now. My issue came in earlier today. I was interested in inviting a friend I had made recently to our church, so I talked to my pastor to see if I could bring him in and interpret the Sunday School class for him (the aforementioned lady has to interpret for our HoH member, so I am next up). I have had a years classroom training, about three years of immersion in Deaf culture, and a years actual interpreting experience in various situations, including church services, religious household gatherings, gatherings using another language, but which provided an English translation of those on paper (music is not easy to translate in voice from one spoken language to another), and even conversations involving 4 or more hearing and 1 or 2 Deaf people.

I spoke to my pastor, and he said that it had to go through Ryan Young, the person that, while in training, by our church bylaws, is technically considered ministry head. Again, I have no problem with that. My problem is that when I said that I understood that he had to know that I had picked up the dialect of signing used here, so that I could show that I was capable of interpreting here, he said "ASL is ASL", and went on about how there is no difference, regionally or for people of different ages, in signing outside from slang.

Now, with experience with Deaf people from three different regions (TN, FL, and GA), I have found that there are differences all the way across the board. My question is, how do I explain in a tactful manner how that, just like English, ASL evolves as a language?

Obviously, I don't want to debate with him, or argue, or make him think I am angry; however, I want to make it clear that he was wrong in his assumption. Anyone got any ideas?
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

What is your priority right now? To interpret church services for your deaf friend, or to win a debate with the ministry leader?

If the leader is satisfied with your interpreting skills, and your friend is satisfied with your performance, then go with that. You can always have further discussions with the ministry leader later. Also, as you serve at church with the deaf over time you will develop "street cred" and have more authority behind your point of view. Be patient.

Pray that your ministry leader will "see the light" while he continues to undergo training. In the meantime, focus on your own skill development and ministry service.

My two cents. :)
 

sculleywr

Member
Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

What is your priority right now? To interpret church services for your deaf friend, or to win a debate with the ministry leader?

If the leader is satisfied with your interpreting skills, and your friend is satisfied with your performance, then go with that. You can always have further discussions with the ministry leader later. Also, as you serve at church with the deaf over time you will develop "street cred" and have more authority behind your point of view. Be patient.

Pray that your ministry leader will "see the light" while he continues to undergo training. In the meantime, focus on your own skill development and ministry service.

My two cents. :)

I'm not talking about the ministry leader. It's the pastor who is thinking this. The ministry leader seems to understand this, after having visited Bill Rice Ranch and seeing regional dialects. Just wanted to clear that up.
 

VamPyroX

bloody phreak from hell
ASL is something that is very loosely defined.

The general concept is that the grammar structure is switched around. Instead of the typical noun-verb-object order as used in the English language, ASL uses object-noun-verb order. However, that order also varies on the individual and how they are raised.

I've heard ASL being explained differently from many different ASL teachers and deaf people. So, I can't say who is right and who is wrong.

Sometimes, it's difficult to get a person to understand things when they're new to it. Often, people will just put the issue into the hands of another and then back out without having any part of it. That leads to communication problems when people don't know what's going on.

He should be open-minded and be willing to listen to what others have to say instead of just saying, "Don't talk to me... talk to him." What you could do is give it another week before approaching him again with a different approach. Perhaps, you can get some information on paper and have him read the paper instead.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
I'm not talking about the ministry leader. It's the pastor who is thinking this. The ministry leader seems to understand this, after having visited Bill Rice Ranch and seeing regional dialects. Just wanted to clear that up.
Sorry, I misunderstood.

Well, if the ministry leader understands, and he's the one who assigns the interpreters, then no problem there.

Is your pastor involved with signing or interpreting? I guess I don't fully understand the situation. :dunno:

If you want to explain more about ASL regionalisms or linguistic topics, try to make it a non-threatening discussion, not a debate. Maybe approach it a little at a time. Such as, mention some interesting sign variations that you've noticed amongst people from different locations. That is, try not to make it seem like a lecture. Think again about this: "I want to make it clear that he was wrong in his assumption." Is that the right approach? That's kind of an in-your-face attitude. :hmm:
 

CJB

New Member
I would explain that all languages have dialects, spoken or signed. ASL is no exception. Just like within English, there's Texan accent, Rhode Island, New Yorker, and so on, so are there dialects in ASL.
 

sculleywr

Member
Sorry, I misunderstood.

Well, if the ministry leader understands, and he's the one who assigns the interpreters, then no problem there.

Is your pastor involved with signing or interpreting? I guess I don't fully understand the situation. :dunno:

If you want to explain more about ASL regionalisms or linguistic topics, try to make it a non-threatening discussion, not a debate. Maybe approach it a little at a time. Such as, mention some interesting sign variations that you've noticed amongst people from different locations. That is, try not to make it seem like a lecture. Think again about this: "I want to make it clear that he was wrong in his assumption." Is that the right approach? That's kind of an in-your-face attitude. :hmm:

Like I said, it isn't so much that, I want him to know the right information, so that he can approach future situations the right way. But to know what is right, you also have to know what is wrong. If his knowledge is wrong, he has to be able to accept that. I don't want a debate.

Also, the rest of the situation, he doesn't want me to interpret for the kid until "they are ready". I myself am ready and willing to interpret. What's important to me is that he needs to be in church, and not that the classes are ready for it. If I am able to interpret for him, the class can move on with little to no changes in structure and teaching style. If he gets saved as a result of being here, than a little discomfort from the members is worth it.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Like I said, it isn't so much that, I want him to know the right information, so that he can approach future situations the right way. But to know what is right, you also have to know what is wrong. If his knowledge is wrong, he has to be able to accept that. I don't want a debate.
That may be but it's not necessarily your place to "teach" him, especially if you don't have the tact to approach him properly.

Also, the rest of the situation, he doesn't want me to interpret for the kid until "they are ready". I myself am ready and willing to interpret. What's important to me is that he needs to be in church, and not that the classes are ready for it. If I am able to interpret for him, the class can move on with little to no changes in structure and teaching style. If he gets saved as a result of being here, than a little discomfort from the members is worth it.
I don't quite understand the "they are ready" situation. Who has to be "ready" to do what?

Yes, Christians should be willing to put up with "discomfort" in order to meet the spiritual needs of others. That includes interpreters. We have to be able to advocate for others without losing our spirit of humility. We don't want to become stumbling blocks to accessibility.
 

LuciaDisturbed

New Member
I have been raised in churches, and one specific church, since I was young. Now, my home church has a member here training people to interpret for the Deaf, in the hopes that we will be able to start a Deaf Ministry. When they started this, I was in Chattanooga, away from home. I come in a year later and start sitting in where they do the training during the service. They train by having the person standing and interpreting the service in the back of the balcony (there is a speaker in the balcony, making it loud enough to be easily understood). The lady with the most experience (about 15 years as a certified interpreter) corrects mistakes as they go along.

Not that I have any issue with this, as it is the best they can do right now. My issue came in earlier today. I was interested in inviting a friend I had made recently to our church, so I talked to my pastor to see if I could bring him in and interpret the Sunday School class for him (the aforementioned lady has to interpret for our HoH member, so I am next up). I have had a years classroom training, about three years of immersion in Deaf culture, and a years actual interpreting experience in various situations, including church services, religious household gatherings, gatherings using another language, but which provided an English translation of those on paper (music is not easy to translate in voice from one spoken language to another), and even conversations involving 4 or more hearing and 1 or 2 Deaf people.

I spoke to my pastor, and he said that it had to go through Ryan Young, the person that, while in training, by our church bylaws, is technically considered ministry head. Again, I have no problem with that. My problem is that when I said that I understood that he had to know that I had picked up the dialect of signing used here, so that I could show that I was capable of interpreting here, he said "ASL is ASL", and went on about how there is no difference, regionally or for people of different ages, in signing outside from slang.

Now, with experience with Deaf people from three different regions (TN, FL, and GA), I have found that there are differences all the way across the board. My question is, how do I explain in a tactful manner how that, just like English, ASL evolves as a language?

Obviously, I don't want to debate with him, or argue, or make him think I am angry; however, I want to make it clear that he was wrong in his assumption. Anyone got any ideas?

Geez, of course there are dialects! I spent most of my life in Wisconsin, then five years in Minnesota. I was ok. But when I moved to South Texas, I could not understand a DAMN THING! My fiance had to interpret for me frequently! But now that I've been here three years I can understand most everything now.
 

LuciaDisturbed

New Member
I'm not talking about the ministry leader. It's the pastor who is thinking this. The ministry leader seems to understand this, after having visited Bill Rice Ranch and seeing regional dialects. Just wanted to clear that up.

Bill Rice Ranch sucks. Just my :2c:

They make women and girls wear dresses and skirts and split skirts only.

That was oppressive, almost like the Taliban oppressed women in Afghanistan with the head burqas and clothes covered all the way to the ground.
 

LuciaDisturbed

New Member
Like I said, it isn't so much that, I want him to know the right information, so that he can approach future situations the right way. But to know what is right, you also have to know what is wrong. If his knowledge is wrong, he has to be able to accept that. I don't want a debate.

Also, the rest of the situation, he doesn't want me to interpret for the kid until "they are ready". I myself am ready and willing to interpret. What's important to me is that he needs to be in church, and not that the classes are ready for it. If I am able to interpret for him, the class can move on with little to no changes in structure and teaching style. If he gets saved as a result of being here, than a little discomfort from the members is worth it.

Religious discussion isn't allowed.
 

souggy

New Member
Religious discussion isn't allowed.

Might wanna check your own post before citing the rules of the forum, so you don't commit hypocrisy right after you make a comment. See post #11.

I wouldn't compare ... by the way. This side of the Atlantic/Pacific is a democracy, not a theocracy. If people don't agree with the doctrine of a church or branch, they are free to leave and join another group.
 

sculleywr

Member
That may be but it's not necessarily your place to "teach" him, especially if you don't have the tact to approach him properly.

You know if it might be considered tactful to write a blog about ASL dialects on Facebook that was well-sourced, and then have him among the list of people that the note is mentioned to on his wall? I hate direct approaches because I do have a tendency to debate. Maybe through this, I can "teach" while not really "teaching." I would include several people in it, my mother and best friend, since they are editor and English major respectively, my friends from Harvest, since they are either Deaf, or know a lot of Deaf people, friends from Temple SLID, and a friend I interpreted for personally

I don't quite understand the "they are ready" situation. Who has to be "ready" to do what?

Yes, Christians should be willing to put up with "discomfort" in order to meet the spiritual needs of others. That includes interpreters. We have to be able to advocate for others without losing our spirit of humility. We don't want to become stumbling blocks to accessibility.

It either has to do with the interpreters, or with the people in the class. It is a youth group, with people from 12 up to 18, so there are bound to be people who might find an interpreter distracting, but I would see it as a necessary distraction, because it would be unfair to stick the Deaf child in a cubicle with the interpreter. in a rectangular room, there is no real place to put him that the interpreter wouldn't be in the peripheral vision of everyone.

He doesn't want me to interpret for him, because the ministry head hasn't finished "testing" me yet. I don't see how he can test my abilities without letting me either interpret for him on the spot or give me a cassette of the sermon and have me interpret that. They haven't done anything like that. I feel like I am quite useless at the church where I grew up, and that isn't a nice feeling. Maybe I'm discouraged a little by that, but that doesn't make their waffling a reason not to bring my friend to church. If it comes right down to it, I will break the rule my parents gave me to go to the church I interpret for on Wednesdays and interpret for him on Sunday mornings. It might not make me popular with my home pastor, but I just want him to be able to be in church and learning and growing, if he isn't saved, I want him saved. if he is, I want him discipled.

Anyways, I ain't posting anything more today. I need sleep. My back is killing me and I need to go to sleep. Going to listen to Madayade and sleep. Have fun. :) God bless.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Bill Rice Ranch sucks. Just my :2c:

They make women and girls wear dresses and skirts and split skirts only.

That was oppressive, almost like the Taliban oppressed women in Afghanistan with the head burqas and clothes covered all the way to the ground.
:rofl:

Wow, life is rough!
 

sculleywr

Member
Religious discussion isn't allowed.

Umm, this is a discussion about a situation within a church setting. I am a Christian and not afraid of anything you can do here, or outside of here, about it. They still have religious discussion on the site elsewhere, and because this is a situation involving ASL in a church situation, religion is going to get into it. Please don't railroad a topic for a rule that is not ethically (because of other religions allowed to be discussed on the site) viable. Don't like my beliefs, don't read my posts.
 

sculleywr

Member
Bill Rice Ranch sucks. Just my :2c:

They make women and girls wear dresses and skirts and split skirts only.

That was oppressive, almost like the Taliban oppressed women in Afghanistan with the head burqas and clothes covered all the way to the ground.

whoa, ok, someone want to drop the railroading. This is in no way useful to the board. Matter of fact, not even the post that could be drawn as relevant to the discussion was useless as it didn't show how to explain to him tactfully what dialects are without inciting a debate. Please don't post any more of this.
 

Reba

Retired Terp
Premium Member
Umm, this is a discussion about a situation within a church setting. I am a Christian and not afraid of anything you can do here, or outside of here, about it. They still have religious discussion on the site elsewhere, and because this is a situation involving ASL in a church situation, religion is going to get into it. Please don't railroad a topic for a rule that is not ethically (because of other religions allowed to be discussed on the site) viable. Don't like my beliefs, don't read my posts.
I hate to say this but if you have been approaching your pastor and Sunday School leader with that same kind of attitude, I can understand why you are having problems with them
 

sculleywr

Member
I hate to say this but if you have been approaching your pastor and Sunday School leader with that same kind of attitude, I can understand why you are having problems with them

I don't approach my pastor like that. They don't railroad conversations. Lucia did.
 
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