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Sign Me Up! Online Edition

William G. Vicars, Ph.D.

MCSE, MCT, MCP+I, A+, Network+, EdNet


Opening "Chat Log Session 4" 
(Chapter 4) 

Daniel: Good evening everyone! 

DrVicars: Good evening people :)  Hi Daniel 

DrVicars: What time you all have? 

Daniel: I have 8:52 EST 

Lii: Hi, everyone.  I have 6:56 MST 

DrVicars: Let's go ahead and answer a few questions before class. 

T2J3: I have a question about food signs.  Does cookie use a rotating letter C in the palm of the
the opposite hand? 

DrVicars: Yes that is right, you can use the letter "c" or a more relaxed "claw type" hand. 

Tigie: Hello everyone! 

DrVicars: Hi Tigie! 

DrVicars: Let's do the agenda thing. 

1)  first feedback and discussion on last week's homework 

2)  then any questions about next week's homework 

3)  I have some discussion items 

4)  then general Questions and Answers till it's time to close. 

DrVicars: So  any q's about time concepts? 

KC: I could not visualize "year". 

Decca: Hello! 

Jessie: HI all 

DrVicars: Okay, I'll explain "YEAR." 

Hold your left "S" hand in front of your belly or chest a foot or so out, then hold the right "S"
hand above the left.  Then move the right forward, then down then back, then up and finally
back to the starting place, having made a circle around the left "S" hand. Think of the earth
circling the sun in one year's time. 

That help? 

KC: Oh, I had it sideways, thanks. 

Sharp: Hi Everyone! This is Sharp from Pompano Beach, Fl 

DrVicars: Hi Sharp, Jessie, and Decca, welcome, we are just discussing various signs. Now any
q's about temperature? And or food?...Okay fine, feel free to discuss them later if they pop up. 

Daniel: What would be a memory reminder for "Cereal"? 

DrVicars: Think of the milk that is on your chin dribbling off and you need to dry it with your
finger across your mouth from right to left if you are right handed. (changing the shape from an
index finger to an "X" and  back again a few times). 

That help? 

Daniel: Sure did, I thought it might be something like that. 

DrVicars: :) 

[Note:  The sign for "DRY" is to drag an "X" from left to right across your lips.  The handshape
stays in the form of an "X," palm down, throughout the sign.] 

DrVicars: I have an old joke for you with a Deaf twist. 


Three men (a Russian, a Cuban, and a Deaf American), and  an interpreter are all on a train. 
The Russian throws a half empty bottle of vodka out the window. When the Deaf American and
the Cuban react with surprise, he explains that "Back home in Russia, we have much better
vodka!"  So then the Cuban throws a half smoked cigar out the window saying, "That cigar
tasted awful.  Not like the ones we have in Cuba." 

Then the Deaf American stands up, grabs the interpreter, and throws him out the window,
signing "He used signed English." 

KC: (lol) 
Kelly: ha ha ha ha 
Sharp: cute!! 
Season: :) 
Jessie: LOL 
Lii: LOL 

DrVicars: I have another one for you. 

"Two deaf men are talking (signing) the first man asks (signs), "What did your wife say when you
got home late last night?  The second man says (signs), "She swore a blue streak" And the first
man says (signs), "What did you do then?" And the second says (signs) I turned out the light" 

Season: hahahahahahaha 
Jessie: cute 
KC: <G> 
Tigie: :) 
Decca: lol 
Monica: :-D 

DrVicars: What do you think is the difference between deaf and hearing humor? 

KC: All in the delivery? 

DrVicars: Partly.  The whole story depends on the winner.  For example in deaf humor the deaf
person generally wins because of his or her deafness.  There is a anecdote about a Deaf couple
who were recently married. 

"One night while during their honeymoon the husband leaves the motel to go get some snacks. 
When he returns he realizes he has  forgotten which room is his.  So he begins honking the horn
of his car until all the room lights turn on except one.  That is his deaf wife." 

DrVicars: :)  The deaf person won.  Deaf humor tends to let the deaf person succeed because of
his deafness. 

Art: Instead of making fun of Swedes, for instance, they make fun of hearing people? 

DrVicars: In a way yes.  But there is a difference, we are talking about a culturally oppressed
group finding amusement in the very condition that the dominant culture pities them for. 

Lii: They also can laugh at themselves.  That's a very healthy attitude. 

DrVicars: Yes true. 

DrVicars: Okay there was a logger. He went to cut down a tree.  He used his ax a few times,
yelled "timber," and the tree fell.  Then chopped for a while on a second  tree, yelled "timber,"
and that tree fell as well.  He went through the same process with a third tree, but the third tree
wouldn't fall over.  So he tried a chain saw, and then explosives, finally he called in a "Tree
Doctor."  The doctor checked out the tree, thought about what to do for a minute then
fingerspelled "T-I-M-B-E-R" 
The third tree finally fell down.  It was Deaf.  You see, the strongest tree, the one that held out
the longest, was the Deaf one. 

DrVicars: In general, Deaf humor isn't against hearing people, it is just in support  of Deaf

T2J3: I knew deaf people who would use visual puns in ASL but I cant remember any. 

Sharp: It seems to me its more of an "ignorance is bliss" situation--What you can't hear can't

DrVicars: You know, sometimes people tell me I'm lucky because I'm hard of hearing and
therefore am not exposed to a lot of the swearing, barking, and various other annoying sounds
that go on.  I know they mean well, but I don't feel lucky.  Imagine telling a person whom had
his arm cut off, "You are lucky, now you will never get bitten by a mosquito on that arm and you
will save a lot of money on soap and lotion." 

Tigie: Do any deaf people think it's an advantage? 

DrVicars: It depends on their upbringing. If they were raised culturally deaf then they tend to feel
their deafness is part of a heritage of the "Deaf Way."  They even have festivals and events that
celebrate their membership in the Deaf community. 

DrVicars: There is a big difference mentally and emotionally between those who grew up hearing
and later became deaf versus those who were born deaf.  Those who were congenitally deaf
have never experienced sound and therefore do not miss it.   Occasionally I get students in my
college class who are losing their hearing and it is incredibly difficult for them, (some even
become a bit suicidal .)   It is hard to imagine until it happens to you.   I think we need to be
careful though about stereotyping.  Responses obviously vary from individual to individual. 

Tigie: Thanx 

Lii: I can tell you one thing.  I'd much rather lose my hearing than sight or something. 

DrVicars: Anyone know what Hellen Keller said about that? 

Lii: No.  She's been my personal hero. 

DrVicars: She said something to the effect of:  "Blindness separates people from things. 
Deafness separates people from people." 

I believe her statement was a lot more applicable in the "old days" than today.  Now we have
lots of assistive technology that bridges the gap between deaf individuals and the rest of society. 
For example:  TTYs or TDDS.  Anyone used one of those before? 

Art: Yes, I helped set up a person with cerebral palsy with one 

Jessie: no 

Tigie: Did HK have to fingerspell everything? 

Lii: I didn't think so. 

Tigie: Instead of using ASL I mean? 

Lii: I thought she used her hands to feel the letters that formed the words, which was different
than fingerspelling, wasn't it? 

DrVicars: Right it was different. 

DrVicars: Later she learned fingerspelling.  I've even seen pictures of her lipreading Anne
Sullivan.  Hellen would place her fingertips and/or thumbtip on  Anne's lips and feel them. 

T2J3: I had deaf friends and would borrow their TTY to call other friends. 

DrVicars: Anyone not know what a TTY is? 

Lii: I know (sort of) what it is, but I've never used one. 

DrVicars: Do you all have relay systems in your state? We do in CA 

Art: MN yes 

TJ: OH yes 

Sharp: I'm pretty certain that we do in FL. 

DrVicars: A relay service allows hearing people to call deaf, and vice versa. A communication
assistant (CA) answers your call then relay information back and forth between you and a deaf
person who has a TTY. 

Tigie: What do the letters TTY stand for? 

DrVicars: Teletype or Teletypewriter.  TTY is an older term than the new term TDD. 

A TDD is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf. 

The change occurred when TTYs, (which were huge mechanical monstrosities that required a
wheelbarrow and a strong back to move), were replaced by the smaller, more technologically
sophisticated, and easier to use TDDs. 

Many of the Deaf did call them TDDs for a while, but I've noticed everyone is going back to
calling them TTYs. 

You might even hear the term TT out there.  It is short for Text Telephone.  It never caught on in
the Deaf community due to how similar it looks to the sign for "BATHROOM." 

Jessie: How do you find out if there is a relay system? 

DrVicars: Try looking in your phone book under "relay services."  If that doesn't work, you
might want to call your State Office of Services for the Deaf and ask them.  If that doesn't work
then call your Public Service Commission.  If that doesn't work then call the main number at the
capitol your local phone company.  Sorry. 

Jessie: Thanks...I think. 

DrVicars:  Here, I just looked up the access number for a nationwide relay service offered by
AT&T.   The voice number is 1.888.288.2182.  If you need to call a Deaf person who has a
TTY and you know his phone number and you have a calling card, you can call that number and
a communication assistant will walk you through the process. 

[Various discussion] 

DrVicars: Fine then  now let's give out homework for next week 

1)  indexing 
2)  personal pronouns 
3)  possession 
4)  directionality 
5)  and negation 
6) Also study the signs for...umm 

DrVicars: <shuffling of papers, sheepish grin> 

DrVicars: You know the next two items down on the concepts list, what are they? 

Monica: clothes & health 

DrVicars: YES! Thanks! 

DrVicars: Also there is a bit more for you I answered some of your q's about syntax via email and felt it would be good to put in the site.. 

[The information is provided below for your reading enjoyment...] 

In American Sign Language, we have a different syntax. In general, the order of concepts in a
sentence follows a "TOPIC" "COMMENT" arrangement.  Also you will see a "TIME"
"TOPIC" "COMMENT" structure. 

For example: 

I personally prefer the first version. Depending on which expert you 
listen to, you will hear that one way is better than the other. 

Tom Humphries and Carol Padden in their book "Learning American Sign 
Language," indicate that there are a number of "correct" variations of 
word order in American Sign Language. For example you could say: 
"I STUDENT I"  or,  "I STUDENT" or even, "STUDENT I" 
And they are all correct 


All of them are "correct." My philosophy is to do the "correct" version that works for the
greatest number of signers. It has been my experience 
during my various travels across the U.S. that "I STUDENT" and "I FROM U-T-A-H" work
just fine and are less confusing to the majority of people. 

I notice that many "ASL" teachers tend to become fanatical about encouraging their students to
get as far away from English word order as possible ("FROM U-T-A-H I"). 

Hey, that's okay for them, they have their reasons, but if you are a busy adult second language
learner, why not keep it simple and effective? 

As far as a sentence without "be" verbs, the English sentence "I am a teacher" could be signed: 
"TEACHER ME " or even "ME TEACHER."  Again, since both are correct, my suggestion is to
choose the second version.  [Remember to use appropriate facial expressions!] 

[And now, back to our regularly scheduled programing] 

DrVicars: That is all on my end.  You have any questions about the homework? 

Crazy: ? 

DrVicars: GA Crazy 

Crazy: I don't really understand how to sign how to rotate? 

DrVicars: You rotate the butt of the right hand on the palm of the left back and forth as if trying
to press the moisture out of a piece of cheese that is within a piece of cheese cloth.  The butt of
the right hand stays on the palm of the left.  The finger tips of the right hand are spread out and
swing back and forth right to left a couple times pivoting on the butt of the hand.  Does that

Crazy: better =) 

KC: I will be at the state capital next week for a disability rights bill, will someone log it and
email the class to me? 

DrVicars: Sure.  Also I will upload it to the library. Those of you who can't download the library
version of the uploaded log can email me and I'd be happy to send it. 

KC: Cool, thanks. 

Crazy: I notice there are some other forms of sign which I dunno so do those people still
understand ASL?  It's like the same word, but they sign it in a totally different way. 

DrVicars: Regarding other forms of signing:  There are a wide variety of signing styles.  Some
sign SEE others use a Pidgin system, while others use ASL.  Most deaf seem to understand
each other fine.  There are also different "registers" of signing.  Meaning--you can sign the same
sign more formally or more casually.  The standard registers include:  Frozen, formal, contact,
casual, and intimate. 

Crazy: okay 

DrVicars: Sometimes they have to code switch. 

KC: 'code switch?' 

DrVicars: to a different system. 

DrVicars: People code switch when they adjust or change their current style of siging to one of
the other signing systems out there. 

DrVicars: For example, I might change from ASL to pidgin if a new person walks up, (and I
suspect he is hearing).  Then after a while--if he seems to sign ASL just fine--I will switch back
to ASL.  Code switching saves time.  I don't have to repeat myself, if I go signing ASL for a few
minutes then have to repeat the same information again when I realize the newcomer doesn't
know ASL. 

Decca: What does SEE stand for? 

DrVicars: Signing Exact English.  Later some people  started saying that it means Seeing
Essential English.  I've heard it was because many parents (back in the old days) had a hang up
with signing and so the school administrators were using the second term get rid of the word
"Signing."  Around that same time they (the teachers and other people who used it) modified
some of the rules of SEE and thus some people started calling it SEE1 and SEE2. 
My informal surveys of the Deaf Community show that 99.77 percent of them don't give a fig
(or have a clue) about the 1 or the 2.  They just lump any English-like signing under SEE or
Signed English and they lump any ASL-like signing under ASL.  The exception are certain ASL
teachers who become a bit rabid about their own version of ASL or the version of ASL taught
in the text book they are using. 

DrVicars: Code switching is somewhat like when you are at a party talking to an adult.  Then a
child comes and asks you something--you switch your level of communication to that which the
child would understand.  Then after she has left, you switch back to your adult style. 

Lii: I had a funny experience when I was doing the 1990 census.  I floundered a whole lot when
I met this deaf couple.  (I had no idea how to sign then.)  They were so patient with me, I had
no trouble communicating to them and them to me.  They became friends with me until they
moved out of town.   So even though I knew not how to sign, they taught me a lot! 

DrVicars: Good story Lii.  Many of my current students take classes because of similar

DrVicars: I guess a moral for that story might be:  "The deaf can communicate with you if you
and they are both patient enough." 

DrVicars: But you need to be careful about generalizing.  Or I need to that is.  Sometimes it is
easy for me,  (us) to stereotype. 

DrVicars: Okay we are officially in the wrap up phase of this class any thing else? 

DrVicars: Let me ask you all a question.  How can I  improve this class? 

Art: Tell more jokes 

DrVicars: We can have a joke of the week. 

Linda: I have no complaints.....except AOL's service problems....but that's beyond your control.

KC: I am always impressed, I wondered, how it could be done and you did it! 

Lii: I agree with KC!:) 

DrVicars: If I forget, then remind me about the joke.  True AOL is beyond my control.  It was
an interesting challenge.  But I had good help from Vince. 

Vince: Thank you.  :) 

[Various discussion] 

DrVicars: Great.  Then I will look forward to seeing you all next week.  I'll stay here and answer
any questions that come up.  Have a nice week. 

[Lot's of goodbyes and "great class" statements.] 

Jessie: Is there currently a sign language program on CD? 

DrVicars: Martin Sternberg has one that I like.  As time goes on there are more and more
available.  We covered that topic last week, you might want to read the log for last week's class
for some hints on how to access sign language materials.   Someday I would like to have a
special  chat room that happens each week for ALL of my students:  the college, the net, and
those whom read my book.  Maybe have a few deaf join in just for other points of view :)  As
technology improves, there is no reason why we couldn't have a nation-wide sign language club. 

Jessie: sounds good:) 

Tigie: That would be good, I keep trying to meet deaf people to practice with, but so far no

DrVicars: Well anyway looks like we are hitting close to the hour so I'm calling it a night. 

Jessie: Good night 

DrVicars: Ask me next week Tigie and I can give you some suggestions how to meet them. 

Vince: au revoir 

Tigie: OK G'night 

Crazy: thanks so much =)    good night 

DrVicars: SK SK 

Closing "Chat Log #4"