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Evolution of a Sign:

In a message dated 12/18/2002 1:06:25 PM Central Standard Time, madprof@ writes:

Hi Bill!

I've been starting to learn sign via your course for about 4 weeks now, thanks! Unfortunately I have not found any local classes, I'm not quite sure which sign language they would teach anyway (living in Larnaka, Cyprus). Anyway, Our drama group here is starting a play in which one of the characters is deaf, and although most of what she has to say is fairly simple (in other words, after 4 weeks of un-hurried learning, I can sign most of it!) She does have to sign "The Silence of the Lambs" as her favorite movie, and I am not sure how to do this, should it be signed english, and also, should "lambs" be signed BABY(or SMALL)-SHEEP-SHEEP / BABY-SHEEP-BABY-SHEEP or something different? The pluralization section on your site doesn't specify how to sign plurals where sweeping would be .. very hard?
Anyway, thanks again for your site :-)

Hello Dan,

I just spent a half-hour studying up on Cyprus! Wow, what a beautiful island full of interesting people and history.

Off the top of my head, I'd suggest signing "QUIET OF L-A-M-B-S."
Which is to say, you'd use signs for "quiet" and "of" and then fingerspell "lambs."
I'd precede the title by the sign "TITLE."

Understand though that you will absolutely not make 100% of the people happy, 100% of the time on this type of interpretation.

Also, the way something is signed during a single discussion progresses and changes. For example, a person might choose to spell out "QUOTE S-I-L-E-N-C-E-O-F--T-H-E--L-A-M-B-S" for on first usage and then start signing it with "QUOTE QUITE O-F T-H-E SHEEP" and then later on shorten it to QUIET SHEEP or even S-O-L.

I saw this happen when a group of graduate level deaf students were discussing an article in which the word "helmet" was being used frequently. No-one in the group had an established sign for helmet. Note, these were VERY skilled signers who had no problem whatsover communicating the concept of "helmet" -- but there was simply no standard sign used by everyone.
Over the course of an hour I watched the sign evolve. At first most people were using spread-slightly-curved 5-handshapes represent a helmet (with a motion that looked as if you were sliding a helmet onto your head. Near the end of the conversation, everyone was signing helmet by using "bent-L" handshapes.

A different group might have evolved the sign differently.

Anyway...I'll ask around and see how others would sign, "Silence of the Lambs." If I see anything that changes my mind on this discussion, I'll let you know.


Also see: "Made Up Signs"


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