18 thoughts on “You Decide: Which Is The Greater Draw – The Singer Or The Signer?”

  1. I understand the work that goes into a production. I’ve been involved with theatre. I’m also a Certified ASL/English Interpreter of 34 years. I know that you don’t know.. what you don’t know. But, this post is insulting to Interpreters and Deaf people alike. I hope you wrote this without understanding that you were doing this. Let me help you out… When we here somebody, particularly in a theatrical production, we hear their intonation and emotion in their voices. We hear music or background noise. ASL is a visual language. It is not the same as reading captioning or following along on a script. A Deaf person will only see a character’s mouth moving and may not be able to get the implied emotions and mood. ASL incorporates that into how things are signed. I would interpret “I HATE you!!” very differently than “Could I be more bored?” Mood, intent, who is involved in a story, emotions etc etc are all conveyed in the person’s facial expressions, size of signing space (you wouldn’t use your normal chatting with a friend voice on stage.. well, Interpreters’ signs need to be seen as much as voices heard) emphasis and speed of signs etc etc. That IS ASL. Deaf people would consider the Interpreter extrememly unskilled if they stood there and signed English word for word. (ASL is also not English. It’s a separate language with grammar and syntax similar to romance languages) It IS a very fine line to interpret theatre in a way that matches the emotions and action on stage without going “over the top”. There is a difference between Interpreting and just using ASL to chat with a Deaf person. If it really pains you to have some of the audience looking at the interpreter, some theatres have set up a box that raises the Interpreter up high enough to be seen. Maybe 18 inches or so. on the floor in front of the first row. With appropriate lighting of course. It’s no good hiring and paying for an Interpreter if they can’t be seen. Interpreters also must prepare for the show almost as much as the actors, but in a different way. They must learn EVERYONE’S lines and be completely familiar with the staging and action of each act. Where a particular actor is standing on stage determines how the Interpreter signs to show who/where is speaking. An Interpreter must have enough time and access to scripts and rehearsals to be able to do the amazing job you want them to do. Believe me, the Deaf people are there to see YOUR production, the Interpreter gives them access to your show, but does not replace your show. Otherwise, they could probably just watch a captioned movie. Which is still challenging for Deaf not fluent in English. And is almost equivalent to reading the book. Not seeing it all come to life before them.

  2. In Deaf Culture animation is an additional form of communication, it is used to enhance and convey emotion. This guy is awesome, he is having as much fun as everyone else and that is the point of an interpreter, to convey the emotion, “vibe” of the particular experience. And No, there is no universal sign, every separate language has its own signs, some might be similar but it is like any other language, tied to its region and culture.

    I thought coffee was my vehicle to get going in the morning but I think I will use this video instead!!!!

    Thanks, Pam

  3. Hah! Thank you, Darren. I realized my error was in reading the phrase, “some pretty animated sign language interpreters”, where I mentally inserted a comma between the words “pretty” and “animated”. Then, when I got to the term “Swedish interpreter”, I automatically thought of a pretty, Swedish (blonde) girl doing the signing energetically. Funny how quickly my expectations changed when I saw a balding GUY in the video. Not pretty, by my standards, and definitely not a Swedish girl. But extremely animated, which made for a very entertaining video, even for someone who can hear. The second time I viewed it, I turned off the sound to experience it as a deaf person would. That changed my perspective drastically, again.

  4. DBQ, That’s interesting. There are many jobs that are so loud you can’t communicate. I spent a summer working on a drilling and blasting crew. We went to quarries throughout New England drilling 6” or 3” holes and then blasting the rock. The drilling was so loud we developed our own sign language for many communicating. Of course, the middle finger is universal.

  5. BTW: My parents learned a bit of sign language in their professions. They were printers and in the big newspapers, back in the day, the printing presses were on site and were very VERY loud for hours and hours. As a consequence they placed quite a few deaf people in those positions. The sound which was damaging to normal hearing people wasn’t an issue for the deaf. They were union employees and very well paid.

    Hearing employees would often have to wear earplugs just to get into the plant area where the presses were running. As children, we got to go through the plant on a tour (with ear plugs of course). It was fascinating to see the miles of paper going round and round being printed, cut, folded and then stacked to be delivered.

    In order to communicate during press time, the rest of the printers and other staff, learned to sign a bit.

  6. Darren – you can never go wrong with a red head, a washing machine and ABBA. 🙂

  7. That was awesome. It made me smile the whole way through. I haven’t much idea what the singer was actually saying, but, even in Swedish, I have a general idea from the signer. He also seemed to be having a great time, dancing and emphasizing the beat. If he just did it deadpan….how boring and uninformative to the deaf people watching wouldn’t that be?

    Interesting that the words singer and signer are so very close.

    There used to be a video of an ASL student doing her final by signing to Cee Lo’s “F%ck You” . She was great!. The video is still there but some copyright issue made them take down the sound. Too bad. It was NSFW but very very cute.

  8. In a college World History class I had a hearing impaired student who was assigned an interpreter. I am ADD so sometimes I would get off track watching her signing rather than giving the lecture. 🙂 However, I speak fast so that gave the students a chance to catch up on their notes. 😉 However, wherever there is an ASL interpreter I find myself watching the interpreter, not watching the speech or the show.

    BTW, this guy is great and he rehearsed this several times before he did it for the camera.

  9. I was walking on the beach Saturday w/ 3 little girls visiting us in San Diego. There was a baby splashing in the water. One of the girls asked the parents the babies name. The mom looked @ me and mouthed, “We’re deaf.” The parents were deaf but the baby could hear. The girls w/ me were 6 year old twins and a 5 year old. The twins had about 10 rapid fire questions about deafness. The 5 year old is real smart. We are friends w/ her mom who is a pediatric cardiologist @ Stanford’s Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. She just played w/ the baby and as we left signed, “Thank you” to the mom. I asked Madeleine what she signed and she indignantly stated, “Well, I said thank you, silly.” The kid is going places.

  10. Tyger wrote:
    “I was expecting a good looking Swedish blonde girl doing the interpreting.”
    Ask and you shall receive

  11. I have to admit that from the description in the email, I was expecting a good looking Swedish blonde girl doing the interpreting. Boy, was I disappointed! Then I was immediately just as impressed with the guy. He’s incredible!

    What I would like to know, if anyone else can answer with any authority, is whether he is interpreting in Swedish (and if interpreting in English or any other language would be different), or is Sign Language the same for any language? It would seem that signing could be universal, but maybe it is different some ways for different spoken languages. Or, a little of both?

  12. I actually don’t have hearing impaired friends – but I am in the music business. This guy is great! It’s been said that singing is partly acting – singers have to put themselves into the scene just like an actor – the audience is watching as well as listening to get the whole emotional message. And wow the signer really knocked it out of the park! I have no idea what he was saying in Swedish, but the signer proved the assertion that 80%-95% of the message is everything BUT the words!

  13. P.S. Love the signer & singer. At some point the singer joined in with his own form of signing. = entertaining.

  14. OMG…. Love it. I have several friends who are hearing impaired. I’m sure they would enjoy this video. 😉 Thank you.

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