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Idioms and ASL (3)
Also see:  Idioms 1 | 2


In a message dated 8/6/2011 5:19:35 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Mian writes:

Hey Dr Bill;
I am starting my fifth semester in an ASL Bach program at  ____ State. You and your site has been a real blessing to me (you added signs addict and serenity for me).
Anyway. Can you think of an ASL sign or group that doesn't translate to English? I hope you get my meaning.
Thanks,
Mian


Mian,
EVERY sign or group of signs translates into English. Some translations might take a sentence or a paragraph, and some translations might require additional context to pinpoint the specific nuances in meaning, but all can be "translated." The main question is whether an interpreter is knowledgeable, skilled, and familiar enough to do the translating.

Even the classic "GULP" sign (which some people say doesn't have an English translation) has a fairly direct interpretation as: GULP = "chagrined" = abashed: "Feeling or caused to feel uneasy and self-conscious; as in "felt abashed at the extravagant praise." [dictionary.com]

Another consideration is that "translation" can occur without communication and without the recipient's understanding. Translation is not the same as communication. For example, suppose an interpreter perfectly translates the sentence, "It tastes like wine" into the language of a person who has never taken a sip of wine.  Even though the translation was perfect, the recipient is still unable to "relate to" the meaning. The lack of appreciation experienced by the recipient of the message is not due to faulty translation but rather to a differences in experiences.

Just because an interpreter translates a concept "perfectly" doesn't mean that someone from a different culture can relate to, understand, or make meaningful decisions based on that translation.
-- Dr. Bill


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