Week 3 wrap-up

We spent the third week of the course learning different aspects of the deaf community, the vocabulary of numbers and food, and the name sign. Here is a summary of the main points of the week.

The figure of the interpreter. While it is true that the figure of the interpreter is necessary for communication between deaf and hearing people, we tend to think that interpreters should always be hearing people. This idea comes from the perspective of hearing people. We cannot deny the importance of the hearing interpreter, but we want to highlight the extreme importance that the figure of the deaf interpreter has in this context. Deaf interpreters do not work from the spoken language, but from the written or signed language. For instance, the welcome video of the course is a video recorded by Josep. Delfina interpreted it into LSC afterwards (she just needed a transcription of Josep’s oral discourse in order to interpret it).

In any case, the interpreter is guided by a code of conduct, which is usually based on similar principles throughout the world. These principles are the same as those of any professional code of conduct, but are adapted to the specific context of interpreting. And for those of you interested in professional regulation of the figure of the interpreter, a good starting point to explore this area beyond Catalonia is the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), and, in Catalonia, you can find the Association of Sign Language Interpreters and Deaf-blind Interpreters of Catalonia.

Name signs. A name sign can be assigned in different moments of life, just like nicknames given in spoken languages. Moreover, the name sign can also vary over time. The basic parameters of the name sign are the same as those of any sign: the configuration of the hand, palm orientation, movement, the place of articulation and the non-manual component. These concepts will be presented in week 4, and we will work through them so you can analyze your name sign from this point of view. We encourage you to share your name sign in the discussions!

Deaf community and associations. You have added some new items on the map of associations. It is so interesting and useful for traveling! In this course we approach only a small part of the deaf community, with associations of sign language users. It is obvious that the “deaf reality” is present at all levels of the activity of people. We cannot forget interpreter’s associations, deaf schools with bilingual programs, theater groups and performing arts, teams of any sport, universities, driving schools, groups of bikers, etc. Associations of parents of deaf children are also an important pillar in this conglomeration of agents that form the deaf community. In Catalonia, for example, the Association of Parents of Deaf Children is especially important for the development of those deaf children who are born into a hearing family. There, they can learn, interact with each other, live and develop fully in LSC.

The deaf community, though silent, is present in almost every area of society. Moreover, as discussed throughout the week, technologies are starting to occupy a space within the deaf community, both because (1) in some cases they replace face-to-face meetings, and because (2) they facilitate communication between distant geographic locations. A good example of the usefulness of technology for communication purposes is this course: we, deaf and hearing people of all over the world, share the same space, which we could all hardly share in a classroom environment.

Online materials. Note that you can find a lot of information in the Internet, which is mostly useful and reliable, that will help you to increase your knowledge about LSC. For example, if you are interested in consulting dictionaries of basic vocabulary, it can be useful to have a look at the Multimedia Dictionary of Catalan Sign Language; and if you wish to know the most common linguistic terminology, we recommend you review the Glossary of Catalan Sign Language Grammar.

Duplication of letters and written accents. A final note on two aspects of fingerspelling:

  • In LSC, the duplication of letters (rr, ss) is articulated by repeating the consonant.
  • You can indicate a written accent mark by raising your hand diagonally towards the direction of the accent (we can find open written accents and closed written accents in spoken Catalan, for example) while you are fingerspelling the letter that carries it. Alternatively, you can also articulate the letter and then perform a movement with thumb and index fingers together in the direction of the written accent, as if you were handling a paint brush. However, the written accent is mainly included in education, specifically in language teaching classes taught through LSC, or in contexts where it should be very clear how the word that we are fingerspelling is written. Outside of these contexts it is less common to find this mark due to the speed with which the letters of the fingerspelling alphabet are articulated.

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This article is from the free online course:

Introduction to Catalan Sign Language: Speaking with Your Hands and Hearing with Your Eyes

Pompeu Fabra University Barcelona

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