Archive for Sign language

Revising Korean Sign Language (KSL) for sexual minorities

It's a bit unclear what exactly happened recently to prompt the article, but the general information it conveys is interesting.

"Korean deaf LGBT activists create new signs to express identities with pride", by Lee Hae-rin, The Korea Times (9/24/22)

Woo Ji-yang, 33, is a deaf gay man based in the southern city of Busan. For most of his life, he felt shame and humiliation when he introduced his sexual identity in Korean Sign Language (KSL). The manual sign for "gay" in KSL describes an act of anal intercourse between two men.

Gyeonggi-based CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) and gay man Kim Bo-seok, 34, confessed he has lived through a dilemma similar to that of Woo's. He has been a bridge between the hearing and deaf community as a child of deaf parents and a sign language researcher studying KSL for his Ph.D., but the sign language expressions that contain overly sexualized and degrading connotations of sexual minorities have made him hesitate to come out and live freely for a long time.

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Flag codes: another type of Hong Kong resistance writing

This photograph is from a little over a year ago, when the former Hong Kong UK consulate worker Simon Cheng was kidnapped by the CCP government and taken to China where he was tortured and forced to make a "confession":

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The semiotics of an East Asian hand gesture

These days people make all sorts of public and private hand gestures to convey a wide variety of information.  Innocent though they may seem, for various reasons many of them become controversial (e.g., the sign for "OK", which has recently been classified by some organizations as a symbol of hate).

These students at a university in China are making the sign of bǐxīn 比心.  According to their professor, it means "love you" or "give you my heart".

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HK protesters' "sign language"

A Twitter thread from Incunabula, starting here:

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It just looks so much better in sign

On my commute home from Language Log Plaza West yesterday, I heard this brief piece on NPR about Lydia Callis, NYC Mayor Bloomberg's American Sign Language interpreter. (See also here, here, here, here, here — screw it, just search for "Lydia Callis".) A couple choice quotes from some of these stories:

From the NPR piece I heard: Callis was animated – both in her facial expressions and hand movements – the antithesis of the stoic mayor.

From this Bloomberg News piece: "She's awesome," Lynn Correa, 30, who has watched YouTube videos made about Callis, said today at a bus stop in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. "She's much more expressive than [Mayor Bloomberg] is."

Don't get me wrong: I think it's great that Callis, and sign language interpreting generally, are getting some postive attention. But looking at the videos, I don't see anything other than a (very good) ASL interpreter — in other words, Callis is not doing anything extra special here, she's just doing her job, which is to translate what people are saying into ASL. I understand that there's the contrast with the otherwise somber Bloomberg, and that what is being translated is news about Hurricane Sandy, and that for many folks this may be one of the first times they've seen sign language interpretation up close — but I can't help pointing out here that the hand movements and facial expressions are defining features of ASL (and of other signed languages). The perception that we non-signers have that these hand movements and facial expressions are particularly "animated" and "expressive" is precisely due to our lack of experience with them as linguistic features.

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