If these are the signs of the times…

I have waited a little while before writing this post, and the reason is simple: why should I talk about it, if everyone has already expressed his opinion? But then, I said to myself: “Why not? What the…!” Of course, I am talking about the scandal of the sign language interpretation during Mandela’s funeral. In fact, there is very little to add to what has been said: it has been incredibly disrespectful towards a huge part of the society that has to deal with a disability. Moreover, it has been an international shame for a country which past has endured enough shame (believe me, on a much smaller level, but I know about international shame caused by my own country and its leaders!) Honestly, I think it is fairer towards who still hasn’t seen the images, to share this other video, which features a real, professional interpreter, and shows what the phoney one was actually saying.

Let’s agree on something: Catherine Tate in this video is far more professional than that guy when interpreting!

All that said and done, what I really want to talk about is the sign language, which is incredibly interesting, as any other language. During the year I spent studying in Soria, I was lucky enough to take part to some really interesting activities and courses, and among them there was also one that gave me an introduction to the Spanish Sign Language, LSE by its acronym in Spanish. As every other language so different from mine, it was a positive shock and a great surprise to learn how this one thinks the world and structures the reality. Prejudices or misconceptions often make us think that this is no more than a way to try and overcome a difficulty, but it is a proper language, exactly as the other ones that we speak, with its rules and the capacity for expressing abstract ideas as well as concrete ones. Also, it is wrongly thought that there is only one sign universal sign language while, generally, each country has its own one, and some have more than one (in Spain there is the LSE, the LSC in Catalonia, and more different ones, like the one in Aragon.) Of course, my knowledge is limited not only by the level of the course I followed, but also by the fact that I can only speak about the LSE and have no knowledge whatsoever about the rest of sign languages, including the English one.

Something that is obvious from the beginning is that the sign language is different from the oral languages for the fact that the first one is visual and gestural, while the second ones are acoustic and vocal. Moreover, the fingerspelling alphabet is the one used to complement the sign languages. One of the most interesting things to find about sing language for me was the structure of the dictionary, which is made of pictures showing the signs for the different words, and it was really funny for my class to do our own little dictionary with the words we learnt during the course to keep practising them. If you are interested in learning more about sing language, or in learning to speak it, you can check online the different associations and see what they offer near you. Here you have the link to the British Sign Language.

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