Why do I often feel like I’m missing out when I see someone communicating in sign language, or more than one person signing? It’s literally one of those modes of communication that comes across so beautifully to me. I’m thinking that this is along the same vein of what we feel when there are certain languages that just sound so beautiful to us. To some, the French language just sounds so smooth, like jazz. Others feel that way about Italian, Portuguese, and others. Some people fall for Arabic, some for Welsh, etc. I have my own feelings about such language for the “hearing”, except that I have had, for years now, the same kind of attraction to sign language. If I’m at a church, a show, or am watching something on TV that has someone signing away, I find that I spend most of my time mesmerized, watching only that person. Those hands and how they move. I sit there wishing I was so good that I understood the language (without my hearing the English equivalent being spoken simultaneously, of course), and there are times I envy others the ability to actually “speak” it too. I have made attempts to pick up on the language, but I think I haven’t been devoted enough to it to have fully mastered it by now.
In time, I know I will. I do wonder what drives such fascination with certain languages. What makes that person care more for the Celtic languages, the other more for Twi, the other for Swahili, and I for sign language? I am aware that sign language is tied to a country or more specific location. For now, I’ll just refer to the American Sign Language, although for all intents and purposes, if I notice anyone speaking with the use of their hands, I’m likely to be as drawn to that. It’s more about the idea of communicating with no sound and solely with gestures. I find it entirely enthralling. Nice big word. Can anyone help me sign that?
When I tried to see what might be said on the subject, I came across this article. I noted especially this paragraph: “There is, the linguist explains, a very tight coupling between how we see a community and region, and how we perceive their language. So no matter how hard a speaker tries to woo a listener with delicate prose, if they don’t have the social kudos to back it up, the response is unlikely to be favourable.” Fascinating, the idea that “social kudos” are behind our love of certain languages. If that’s indeed the case, then I must feel like I stand to gain something by being part of the deaf community. On the surface, it sounds absurd and exploitative. But deep down, there truly must be something in me that truly admires the deaf and hard of hearing that leads me to a deep appreciation of one part of their culture: the language.
The totality of this truth is yet to be seen. Suffice it to say that the language is likely to forever fascinate me. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m curious to hear from anyone else who is in the same boat.
Yes? Yes?? 🙂