Sun 4 Dec 2011
(8:02) English summary: Hello. Recently someone I worked in Boston, MA during the mid-1970’s contacted me. In Boston, as a recent Gallaudet graduate, I worked at the Northeastern University at Dr. Harlan Lane’s newly-established ASL research lab with people like Marie Philip, Dr. Francois Grosjean and naturally, Dr. Lane, himself. While in Boston, I also worked with other researchers such as Dr. Ronnie Wilbur (currently at Purdue University in Indiana) and Dr. Judy Kegl (I believe, now at University of Southern Maine).
It was Ronnie Wilbur who contacted me not long ago, and shared a few very old videos that she found, which was nostaglic. I will share a couple parts which shows myself and Marie Philip singing songs, believe it or not. Will share a few words after I show the clips.
Clip 1: except from video with Marie Philip and Ella Mae Lentz “We Like Men” song created by Eric Malzkuhn for his original musical “Moments Preserved” (1960’s)
Clip 2: Ella Mae Lentz and Marie Philip “Three Blind Mice” inspired by the National Theatre of the Deaf production “My Third Eye” (early 1970’s)
Done with laughing with disbelief? Now, lets’ do a bit of analysis.
Yes, those clips show us signing in strong English word order, and rhythm being very important. However, we could see some ASL influences, especially in the sign vocabulary choices. For examples:
• use of classifiers to describe the size and thickness of a steak, fancy hats, fancy shoes and long-haired cats
• to sign “menu”, a sign phrase was used (2h)altEAT+LIST
• “Don’t look!” translated to !WAVE-NO! LOOK-AT-me (inflection verb modified for “to me”)
• part in 3 Blind Mice “Have you seen such a thing in life..?” – “Have” used with sign “FINISH”, “such a” used with sign “THAT-ONE”. Also, yes-no question facial expression was superimposed even tho quite slightly.
Those clips showed examples of how performance pieces in ASL exhibited attempts to apply ASL principles in translations especially during that decade, when the Deaf Resurgence was only recently started after scientific discoveries that ASL is an actually a language with its own phonology, syntax, etc. but we didn’t yet know enough how to identify the ASL principles. It was the time of early ASL research.
As a result, translations were “incomplete.”
Nowadays, there’s a lot of differences. Better in many ways. For me, the best is seeing ORIGINAL ASL songs/poems. Second best would be GOOD ASL TRANSLATIONS of English text.
I continue to work hard at how best and appropriately translate from English to ASL (and vice versa) as well as better strategies to create original ASL works. I expect you all to do the same, not to stop reaching for the best in ASL, and to continue raising the bar for ASL presentations.