bunt sign

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Homework is kicking my ass. I'm not the only one who's having trouble with the experimental workbook we're using in my sign language class. Suzanne was complaining about it today, too. Then I found out she was working way ahead of me in the next chapter, and I felt even worse.

I think I'll get it, eventually, but I'm not sure I agree with the approach. First of all, there are exercises in the early part of chapter one that depend on a knowledge of basic signs that aren't taught until the last pages of chapter one. This is a big problem the first time through the book. It's a good thing I go over and over and over every exercise until I'm totally comfortable with it.

Another thing I don't like (and I'm just full of useless criticism here) is that the writers of the text don't seem to like actual simple English. I suppose it's because they're trying to get across the notion that there's not a word-for-word correlation between English and ASL. Well, I get that. I've learned other languages, and I know that you don't translate words. You translate meanings and concepts.

But you have to know the words! It's fine to put a picture of a chair next to a picture of someone giving the sign for chair. But you might also stick the word "chair" somewhere on that page, because in this case that's pretty much what the sign means (unless I'm completely misinterpreting everything). That's okay, though. Picture of chair, sign for chair. That sign must mean "chair."

What about colors? Why (I wonder vacantly) do they show the sign for the color pink next to the words "the color of a white rabbit's nose"? Why not "pink"? Why not "yellow" instead of "the color of a canary, the sun and a lemon"? When I see the sign for "white," am I going to think about the color of milk and snow? No, I'm going to think "white." So in my book I wrote the word "white."

You can't tell me that deaf people don't think "white" as well. That is, if they're American deaf people, who have to learn to read and write in English. Maybe preverbal children would associate the sign for "white" with milk and snow, but I'm an adult. I know the word. Let's use all the resources we can for teaching the language, okay?

There are a few signs in the book and on the video that I still don't get. A one- or two-word description would probably clear it all up, but instead they have ambiguous drawings that could mean several things. They could mean so many different things that they end up meaning nothing. I don't think this is the best way to teach the language, but the authors are committed to it. Our teacher made that clear in class Tuesday. That's one of the few things he made absolutely clear, in fact.

17 January 2004


Don't get me wrong. I'm not thinking of quitting, and I won't go into class next week with a list of grievances. I'll play along and try to learn it their way, up to a point. I'm still going to write the names of the colors in my book, though. That just makes too much sense to me.

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Mom was a little better today, thanks. She's drinking more water, and she's even been able to force herself to eat a little. She was better early in the day than later, but as I recall that's the way it was for me when I had something similar. And I took her garbage out for her today, so I didn't feel quite so useless.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Open Spaces
"I was careful today on my errands not to park under any trees or light poles."

Two years ago: Disjointed
"Somehow my candidate got the most votes but still lost, so I had to deal with a little crisis of faith in the process."

Three years ago: Coming Undone
"I have my priorities straight, right?"

Four years ago: Howl
"I was a dyslexic beatnik poet in hell's dimmest coffee house."

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