Tuesday, October 26, 2010

formal complaint

To: The inventors of American Sign Language

Re: Some of your signs

To Whom it May Concern,

Hi. My name is Tracy Clifton. I have been learning ASL for approximately 5 weeks now, in addition to the signs I've learned here and there over the years from some of my friends who know ASL. It's a wonderful language, it really is; highly expressive, deeply emotional and incredibly intuitive. Every week after class, when my brain is crammed with new signs to practice on my bewildered boyfriend and my friends that I'm taking class with, I'm so excited to be learning this language and be able to communicate with the Deaf community and those who know ASL.

I just have one complaint though. A tiny little complaint. More of an observation, really. Um, why is it that you felt it necessary to make some signs so very close to each other, and make some of those signs Very Bad Words? I don't mind, really, because most of ASL is also built around context, but did you have to make "bitch" and "mother" so incredibly similar? And how about "shy" and "whore"? Really guys? Really? You couldn't, like, use a whole different hand for all the bad words in ASL so that no one ever uses them mistakenly?

Because the thing is, Inventors of American Sign Language, I like ice cream. And I have no problem sharing this fact, because, quite honestly, who DOESN'T like ice cream? So when we were doing exercises in last week's ASL class of "I like________" and then we'd fill in the noun, I decided to tell the class that I like ice cream.

Only I didn't tell them I like ice cream, dear Inventors of American Sign Language. Oh no. That would have been too easy, in a class full of high school students and single mothers, to tell them that I liked ice cream.

Nope. I did the sign for "ice cream" just ever so slightly different than the way I learned it in class, because, hey, I'm a human, I can't always remember signs PERFECTLY, and people use their tongues to lick ice cream off their cones so it makes TOTAL sense, right??

Which is how I ended up telling my class in American Sign Language that I like blow-jobs.

Inventors of American Sign Language - you're officially fired.


PS: Speaking of nothing to do with that, The Kid in the Front Row interviewed me as an actress - head on over and check it out :)


Anonymous said...

Haha! Oh dear . . . you have really made me giggle, lol! x

Robin said...

That is indeed what she said.... If you are wondering what I am talking about, I am looking at your personalized comment (That's what she said.) I was laughing so hard trying to think of an appropriate comment and then I realized that you already said it. Perfect!

Elisabeth said...

How tragic, to make a mistake and wind up with egg on your face. I agree, Tracey, why can't the make bigger distinctions between words. Maybe their options are limited. good for yo to be tackling this new subject.

Wine and Words said...

LMAO! Funny as ever dear Pheonix!

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Many a deaf man has been left severely depressed after having his new girlfriend correct him with, "sorry, you misunderstood, I like ICE CREAM!"

Sage Ravenwood said...

ASL is the more readily recognized sign language. Then it gets weird. They actually have a few different forms that have subtle differences and sometimes people tend to get them mixed up.

Bad sign experience:Imagine my surprise when I go into a restaurant and excuse myself to go into the restroom. Come back out and the waitress keeps making the sign for sex. All I could think of was, 'what the heck did she think I did in the bathroom'. By this time Paul is busting his gut across the table. Apparently he told the woman that was the sign for good and she was asking if the food was good.

I made him straighten that out with her before we left. Figures guys always learn the crude words first.

Believe it or not, I've been deaf for almost 6 years and still only know the very basic signs. I need to learn sign language myself. I read lips so well and so few people actually sign, so I've been putting it off.

As for the Deaf community, ask me about it sometime and I'll explain. Let's just say born deaf, doesn't always welcome late deafened with open arms. At least that's the general consensus in the area I live in. (Hugs)Indigo

Anthony Duce said...

Very funny…. I wonder though if language, be it ASL or others are that much different. I’ve had similar embarrassing moments using the languages I’ve known for a long time. I do have to concede though, not as remunerable… :::::☺

Anthony Duce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bathwater said...

See now knowing my luck I'd start out with a smile and a wink and end upw ith a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough in my lap.

Phoenix said...

Kate - yeah, I've been cracking my friends up since last week. Their favorite part of my story is when I describe the horrified expression on my Deaf teacher's face.

Robin - that's TOTALLY what she said. Hah!

Elisabeth - there really needs to be a warning sign or something, don't you think?!

Annie - Girl, I love cracking you up.

Kid - That exact scene SO needs to be in a script of yours.

Indigo - Wow, I hope Paul was in the doghouse for that one! And yeah, I'd love to hear your experience with the Deaf community but I'm not surprised to hear that you haven't exactly been embraced. There seems to be some sort of hierarchy and the Deaf community tends to look down on people who became Deaf later in life, or people who have learned to lip-read. It's a very blunt community too... I'd love to hear your thoughts sometime on it.

Anthony - You're right, I'm sure this happens in every language. This is why in school I studied German (if they even have bad words, they are very obvious, like "scheisse") and Latin. It's hard to offend people in a dead language.

Marion said...

Oh, Phoenix. I was reading this to my husband and he does some lewd sign language of his own. I laughed so hard reading this I almost peed in my pants. Go figure. It must've been invented by a male, no?

I learned a LOT of sign language when I used to teach Sunday School. We signed tons of songs and that's how I learned much of it.

Good luck in your class. I'm sure you they won't forget your presentation. Tee-Hee. :-)

PS: I've loved dragonflies since I was about five years old. Dragonflies and lizards are my favorite bugs. I'd catch lizards and get dragonflies to lite on my hands. I rescued a lizard just last week from my cats, poor thing. I caught him by the tail and toss him up a tree. Love & Blessings!!

Dave said...

That is just too funny....way to break the ice!

Eric W. Trant said...

Laughing my ass off, that's funny, Tracy.

You know, in the spoken language we call that a Freudian Slip...

Though confusing those two does remind me of college.

I wish I had a story that funny, but I can't say as I've ever embarrassed myself that bad, and I sure am trying to dig one up.

Okay, maybe that time when the cop found me naked in my car with my high school girlfriend, and turns out he was in my karate class and I was his senior belt, made him do pushups and beat his ass in the ring and he HATED me.

I stood beside the truck mooning them until his voice over the loud speaker: Mr. Trant, you can put your pants back on.

Can I now? Thank you, Officer Kelly.


Nope. You still got me. Way more embarrassing.

I pity you.

- Eric

drollgirl said...

ACK!!! OH MY LORD!!!!!!!

i struggle enough with the English language! i can only imagine how i would butcher sign language!!! yeesh!!!

Lira Kellerman said...

ah ha ha ha ha ha! love it!

Kristin Quinn said...

Sitcom material....

krista said...

and that is how you became the most popular girl in class.

you, my dear, just made me start choking i was laughing so hard.

* said...

Ohh, I had no idea that "bitch" and "mother" so incredibly similar in ASL, as well as "shy" and "whore". Some of my friends love ASL and have picked up some signs here and there, can't wait to see if they know these, too.

Deech said...

ROTFLMAO! I think this post deserves an added video of you making that sign!


Don't get me wrong, if it were me, I would probably tell the world I love anal sex without lube, while thinking I was telling them that they ran out of toilet paper in the men's room!

Okie said...

lol...wow. that's amazing. I've run into some vague similarities in my language studies, but never anything like that. Crazy!

Dionne said...

Bahahaha, oh how i wish i was there in that room with a video camera tucked into my bag... pointing at you... then posting it on You Tube, hahahah!

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Phoenix - that is exactly the type of dumb shit I write! :P

Gwen said...

LMAO!!! I would definitely sign something inappropriate. Hell...I normally say something stupid half the time. :) XOXO

Gwen said...

LMAO!!! I would definitely sign something inappropriate. Hell...I normally say something stupid half the time. :) XOXO

Barbara said...

Ummmm....is that a male or female teacher?

nick said...

This now explains why I got my face slapped when I was learning this stuff and told someone he had a shy mother.
Thanks for your comments, too. Burton was a character. Wish he and Liz had done Macbeth.

LenoreNeverM♡re said...

Almost like watching a funny sitcom Phoenix! I have a sign language 'will' on my sidebar! luv it!

Rosaria Williams said...

Oh my! You are curiously in trouble, in so many ways, and none of which are your fault.

david mcmahon said...

Really enjoyed your narrative style. Came here from LakeViewer's blog.

I would say the ASL "word" for ice cream is definitely more important than any other!

Phoenix said...

Bath - ice cream is a terrible thing to waste by throwing it on someone's lap.

Marion - yeah, I notice a lot of songs are taught to children with ASL. Very fascinating. And now whenever I see dragonflies I think of you :)

Dave - yes, it DID help me make friends easier in class...hmmm....

Eric - I am a professional self-embarrasser. Thank God no one in my Tae Kwon Do classes hated me or they would have felt so much glee as I repeatedly hit myself in the face with my own nun-chucks.

Droll - Yeah, for those of us who are accident prone, it's a very risky language.

Lira - I knew you would :)

Kristin - I am totally putting this in my next script, girl. You can count on it.

Krista - You know me, Little Miss Popular. ;) I DID think it was strange that all the guys wanted to sit by me after that...

Terresa - ask them if they've also ever mixed up "coffee" and "make out". This language was NOT designed for people like me!

Joker - I've probably signed that by accident as well. Adding it to the list.

Okie - a lot of ASL is based on context, so there are a LOT of mistakes that can be made. Can't wait to make 'em all...

Dionne - I would probably be even MORE popular if this was up on YouTube! (Guess I gotta be careful what I wish for, eh?)

Kid - can't wait to see it pop up in a movie a couple years from now and go, HEY! That actually happened to me!!

Gwen - Hah! I think that's the problem. Even when I'm not signing ASL I'm still usually saying something wrong!

Barbara - my teacher is female. I think she laughed harder than anyone else.

Nick - next time it's better to just ask in English. Less risk of getting slapped, I think. And yeah, wasn't Richard Burton awesome??

Lenore - yeah, it's definitely sitcom material!

Lakeviewer - "Curiously in trouble, in so many ways, and none of which are (my) fault." I am SO putting this on business cards. It's my new slogan!

David - Nice to meet you! Yes, I would think that making sure "ice cream" is correctly signed is probably one of the most important aspects of ASL, lol!

Lori ann said...

Omg tracy! i love 'icecream' too!

hahaha, darling girl, i am laughing (and sighing) and it's all because of you. Thank you. You are such a gem, completely gorgeous inside and out.
hug hug hug.

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