I need your help


New Member
Hi! I'm a student from the Netherlands and I'm doing research on sign languages, I would really appreciate it if someone could help me by answering a few questions.

What sign language(s) do you use?

Do you sometimes struggle to communicate with people that don’t know sign language? How do you ususally overcome this?

Do you often encounter signs that you don’t know?

Do you often experience that you use different signs than other people that use the same sign language?

How much would you say your sign language depends on mouth movement and body language?

Was it hard for you to learn sign language? / Was it hard for you to learn a spoken language?

What is the most important difference between sign languages and spoken languages?

Do you use sayings that come from spoken languages in your sign language?

What's your favorite idiom / saying / visual pun in your sign language?

What’s your favourite part about deaf culture?

Have you ever tried to communicate with another signing person that doesn’t know the same sign language? If so, what sign language and how did it go?

Thank you in advance!


Active Member
Body language and emotions and expression is a important and indispensable part of sign language. Without it there is no joy in it.

Sign language has regional differences in the USA Ive been through the whole of it as a trucker and ran into deaf in many places, some whose signs differed on either Regional signs or even cultural signs that are strictly their own. And I gave them the same differences from where I came from myself. SO.. what happens is that Sign Language as a living language takes a few minutes to teach each other what words mean, we all have for the most part the same alphabet so thats not a problem. It usually leads to where you from etc. Never enough hours in a day once that gets going.

Someone who is new or learning? Well, they muddle along and sink or swim. Most of the time there are time taken to teach this or that a word at a time. In ASL its faster to do this than painful old SEE. Unless you are dealing with a generation either old enough to have been trained on SEE and do not do ASL very well.

There are not friviolus wasted sayings as it were in Hearing Speech. The Deaf has their own form of sayings sometimes expressed in a physical way or even through imitation of a particular person. We had a prinicpal for years or decades rather in school. His Shoulder was not the best as he aged. So sometimes it gives him trouble in signing. He was a beloved and well respected adminstrator of his time, however one can use him as a crutch to come up with a funny... for example Punishment time.. "You have to (Roll Shoulder) sit on that hard bench for a hour." or some common well known ism or saying to a particular person. It took longer to describe where such a thing comes from and who and how its possibly used.

Speaking with Hearing english and SEE/ASL are separate languages. I was taught SEE first, the basics. Then once I had filled that out with a few hundred other words (Starting with the forbidden swear words and other words not permitted etc) then it was 4 years of speech learning. Essentially a few thousand words to memory for speech. Not doing that again. But the damage was done and it served me well in trucking. However the Accent based on Hesse-Bavarian gives me away and creates regional problems among the hearing. Example we may say water. But in Joisey (New Jersey) we say wadder. In NYC we throw in profanity then say forgetaboutit in some form. Aint no one going to get that to drink unless you do it yourself. =)

I have friends in Israel and in Israel their Military uses deaf people among other things in active duty service. Something our Military does NOT do. Their Sign Language is theirs as is ours is ours. Trying to cross the two requires some reading a version of translated Israeli Sign Language and a little bit of Hebrew to go with it. Not very much. Its... tough. Its easier to bawl bad German on the docks at the seaport to drop that *&% box right here. Than it is to try and get into another nation's sign language. It can be done if you two have something in common to build off of. But it takes a great deal of time and effort. So we take bits of other languages as we go along. I suppose if I went somewhere outside of the USA and stayed long enough I will eventually learn that nation's language whatever it is. But it will NEVER be like a native or what not.

Words like what not etc do not translate into sign very well, if a deaf does not know anything about speaking for a variety of very good reasons then it is meaningless to them. It would be a exercise in critical thinking to sit and come up with something else. So in ASL or SEE I switch to the word Stuff followed by the eye roll and slouch to indicate excessive and ongoing piling of unnecessary tasks that will be like the salt mine to work through. But not too often. ASL is its own language as it is already.

If the National Differences is too great but Galludet's ABC is present then communication and learning is going to happen. I ran into one from Africa at the produce market, fresh off the plane to the USA to seek out his future and stone deaf. (Thats quite a accomplishment) but boss man poked at him and pointed everywhere that told me hes deaf. So I broke out the SEE asking if he was deaf and he said yes then broke into his African sign. I used the word whoa in spelling and he got it then started spelling back. Boss was not happy. But eventually we understood each other to move the produce into the truck. Counting essentially. SO many of this on that pallet and so high with so many per layer count count spell spell spell. But he was HAPPY. For about two hours as we worked to learn each others languages.

Some people would get into culture being a problem or even race etc. Well if you are two deaf that does not matter. It can make for some strange situations sometimes in some places. For example. I have a rule in major cities not to sign. That is because Gangs have their own Languages (5 fingers equals a crown denoting a Boss for the block etc) and here I am a white boy counting off the number 5 and then the person in the gang thinks I am some kind of rival and opens fire. We have a problem then. Particularly if I am armed as well where I live. No one is going to sit and go over a possible invasion of a gang territory which is met with gunfire going out. We are well past that point. So I dont sign.

What I do do is make the impression of a combination of Mr Magoo (Cannot see) and then Mr Ears Cannot hear using a sort of comic clown type expression of hands and body movements that are exaggerated to any stranger. That usually clears up the situation as I am deaf and out comes the pen and paper. Sometimes they cannot write so thats another problem. Then there is Pantomine. Sort of like a mime. But eventually the message is conveyed.

It never ends. And that I think is the fun part. I had a hearing boss a long time ago who was really good. He learned my ways with the dump truck in paving and all he had to do is either look or point. If he started swearing I make a whoops. And now we have to fix it. Some of our hearing customers get into difficulty when we do our routine without a word. "You mean that driver is DEAF?" then I turn around and say yes, you have a problem with that in spoken english. The process to watch them is the fun part. Sometimes they break out what little they learned in signs which is really sometimes horrible. Really outdated and bad. By the time I spend a few minutes standing there correcting the person I get to hear swearing again from the boss. Get moving. We dont have all day. And we don't One question that used to come up is how in the world does a deaf driver gets to trucking? You can thank the DOT for opening that up in the 70's because prior to that deaf did not drive anything at all.