How do deaf people think?

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Dawnstorm
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Dawnstorm » Sat Apr 28, 2012 7:45 pm

metalangel wrote:Sign language doesn't represent a language, it represents concepts in the same way that spoken or written words do (I think that's what you're saying, right?). The only time it represents another language is when you spell out a word that there's no sign for.
Actually, that's not quite what I was saying, but I do agree with you on one level. Language is more than just words. When you're translating form one into another, you're not just substituting words. A very big part is grammar.

Now I don't know sign language, and that's why I might well be wrong. When you make the sign for love, that's clearly not a specific language. When you spell it out (say someone asks you to spell it), then it's clearly in a specific language. But that's just a word; different languages order thoughts differently. A sentence like "I love you," assuming international signs, should be pretty easy in language where subject - verb - object is a meaningful sequence. That may not always be the case. Some langauges, such as Latin, rely on word-endings rather than word order. Most languages are hybrids. (google analytic vs. synthetic languages). Some languages order the relationship between verbs and nouns in different ways (google nominative-accusative languages vs. ergative-absolutive languages). The list goes on.

I mean kutagh said this above: "for example in Dutch Sign Language we don't have 'the' or 'a' and of course the different grammar rules". I read this as meaning that - as soon as you leave the word-level - you have some differences that relate to your respective mother tongue. From what I know about language, this is necessary. There are very few, if any, universals about language. (Off topic: I'm a bit surprised that Dutch doesn't have articles. Am I misunderstanding something? Or are there articles, but the distinction between definite and indefinite is not there? Am I misunderstanding something?)

Basically, all your language thought habits relate to a language you use, and I doubt that there is any sign language in the world that is entirely independent of any other language. But you're right that you don't always have to represent a particular language when signing.

It's complex, and I can't go into details, because I don't know any sign language.
KS is interesting because it translates all signed communication into grammatically correct English*, regardless of whether someone is interpreting or if both participants are signing. I don't know much about JSL, but I am doubtful that it uses proper spoken grammar.
Not only grammatically correct, but also full of conversational quirks that strike me as uneconomic when signing. I may dig up specific examples and ask questions when I get home.

Kutagh
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Kutagh » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:14 pm

@Dawnstorm: 'Normal' Dutch has articles (the = het/de and a = een). But there are no signs for those in Dutch Sign Language, as well as grammar difference between Dutch and Dutch Sign Language (like in ASL it is (time) (subject) (action) as opposed to "I talked to that girl yesterday and she liked me" which doesn't follow the same grammar).

Dawnstorm
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Dawnstorm » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:28 pm

Kutagh wrote:@Dawnstorm: 'Normal' Dutch has articles (the = het/de and a = een). But there are no signs for those in Dutch Sign Language, as well as grammar difference between Dutch and Dutch Sign Language (like in ASL it is (time) (subject) (action) as opposed to "I talked to that girl yesterday and she liked me" which doesn't follow the same grammar).
Ah, thank you for the clarification. I misunderstood you completely. Now, I think metalangel is "more right" than I am (though I still think it's not one way or another). I'm actually not surprised that there are no articles in (Dutch) sign langauge as opposed to the language itself; it makes language-economic sense. The articles are rarely necessary to make yourself understood.

Kutagh
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Kutagh » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:36 pm

Dawnstorm wrote:
Kutagh wrote:@Dawnstorm: 'Normal' Dutch has articles (the = het/de and a = een). But there are no signs for those in Dutch Sign Language, as well as grammar difference between Dutch and Dutch Sign Language (like in ASL it is (time) (subject) (action) as opposed to "I talked to that girl yesterday and she liked me" which doesn't follow the same grammar).
Ah, thank you for the clarification. I misunderstood you completely. Now, I think metalangel is "more right" than I am (though I still think it's not one way or another). I'm actually not surprised that there are no articles in (Dutch) sign langauge as opposed to the language itself; it makes language-economic sense. The articles are rarely necessary to make yourself understood.
No worries, it's not the first time I've been completely misunderstood... ;)

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Mirrormn
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Mirrormn » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:42 pm

Dawnstorm wrote: Not only grammatically correct, but also full of conversational quirks that strike me as uneconomic when signing. I may dig up specific examples and ask questions when I get home.
I think A22 was more concerned with giving the sign language a unique conversational style (which underlined the idea that sign language allows for more forethought and guardedness than speech) than giving realistically accurate translations. I think it worked well in a literarily artistic sense.
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metalangel
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by metalangel » Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:48 pm

At a very basic level, you don't need things like 'the' and 'a' to communicate.

"Shop go me" (ASL) and "I am going to the shop" (English) both tell you exactly the same thing. That's a very rudimentary example but you can see how sign conveys the crucial elements (as Dawnstorm says, it's more economic)

I've posted this elsewhere here before, but I'll say it again: I was talking to a guy in work about sign and he was saying how (eastern european in his example) languages, directly translated into English, sounded very 'basic' because they lacked articles like 'the' and 'a'. I responded by saying that they were more efficient for this. My understanding (as a hearing person) is that signing is designed to be efficient.

I also recall a French teacher in school, in response to a question about why there were so many extraneous "E"s on words, explaining that language teachers in the dark ages would charge per letter when teaching nobles. That could well be complete BS but I haven't heard anything to contradict it since then (I welcome it if anyone has something)

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Mirrormn
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Mirrormn » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:20 pm

metalangel wrote: "Shop go me" (ASL) and "I am going to the shop" (English) both tell you exactly the same thing. That's a very rudimentary example but you can see how sign conveys the crucial elements (as Dawnstorm says, it's more economic)
Not exactly. As far as I understand it, "Shop go me" could mean "I am going to the shop" (I'm leaving right now), or it could mean "I am going to a shop" (it doesn't matter which shop, I'm just bored), or "I go to a shop" (whenever I need to get my car repaired), or "I go to the shop" (every day after work). There's a lot of different flavors of meaning in English that are not captured by the more efficient sign language. Now, usually, you don't need all those subtle connotations, especially in face-to-face conversation where body language and context will make up for the lost meaning, but the efficiency gained is not without its cost.
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Royale
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Royale » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:03 am

Whoaaa. Really thought provoking discussion.
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klitnov
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by klitnov » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:40 am

Holy crap that's incredibly difficult to say. I am not deaf so I wouldn't really know, and you can't reeaally get an answer from a deaf, just like you cannot get one from a person that can hear. ( y'know, how when you ask the other cant give a straight answer. ) I don't think that deaf people have a "mind voice" per say, but have some "magic" text reading thingy in their head. Like Microsoft Steve? .... Damn.

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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Dawnstorm » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:19 am

Mirrormn wrote:I think A22 was more concerned with giving the sign language a unique conversational style (which underlined the idea that sign language allows for more forethought and guardedness than speech) than giving realistically accurate translations. I think it worked well in a literarily artistic sense.
First off, let me say that I didn't feel it took away too much from the story. But the feeling I got was that I couldn't tell the difference between a verbal conversation and signed conversation, and at some point that became a minor distraction. I don't want realistic transcriptions; conversational is okay. But it should give a sense of the limitations of signing. Any seen will do, but I'll try to go through the beginning of Terminal to show you what I mean.

Again, please note that I do not know sign language at all. All of this intuition on based what I think might be useful. The point is not that I'm right, but to demonstrate how innocent looking usage can include redundancies that look hard to sign.

Shizune: [Misha told me that you were looking for me.]

No problem at all.

Hisao: [I was.]

Again no problem. (Although I suspect a simple "Yes" would be more likely to sign, since the important word is left out "I was (looking for you)." All you say is the unimportant part; but I figure stuff that you actually sign should carry more meaning, precisely because it's more "forethought and guarded", as you say. "Yes" expresses the meaning perfectly. In Japanese a simple affermative repetition of the verb would also be plausible, I think [but here I'm really out on a limb, since my Japanese is attrocious; not non-existant like sign but...]. Still, it captures the spirit well enough, and the point I'm making here, even if correct, is so subtle that I don't really care.)

Sh: [But you found me yesterday.]

Again no problem.

Sh: [Well, I didn't make it easy, did I?]

This is where I start to get susupicious. "Well"? Isn't that something that would be expressed through bodylanguage rather than through actual signs? I'm not sure, really. But this sort of "well" is a social noise that has no meaning and displays only speaker attitude. I'm also curious how to sign tag questions (which aren't real questions); I sort of think they lose impact at the pace of signing.

It's not that I think these are grave flaws. It's just that as a non-sign-literate person, I cannot tell what effect signing has on conversation. Hisao's conversations with Shizune sound much the same as his conversations with, say, Shizune. There are differences respective personality; but no systematic stylistic differences that reflect signing. Maybe there are non, and I overestimate the difference. But as I'm actually curious about this stuff, I'll have to turn to outside sources to satisfy my curiosity.

These are the sort of conversational quirks I'm talking about. How much of this is important enough to merit signing, and how much will find itself into body language (including facial expression)? It's a bit of a lost opportunity, I think.

H: [It's all right.]

Yup, it's all right. (Note that I'm not objecting to contractions, although that's probably something you won't sign.)

Sh: [That's why I'm here. We can talk today. Although... I kind of want to go somewhere else.]

How am I to interpret the ellipsis and the "kind of". Is the ellipsis a pause in signing? I think pauses in signing and pauses in speech would create a different effect. And the "kind of" again sounds like filler you wouldn't put in, but express non-verbally.

I'll stop here. Even if I'm wrong here, I hope you see my problem. (If you don't, I doubt more examples are going to help.) The conversations read exactly like normal conversation; and that sort of downplays the problems with getting emotions across. I've seen few people sign in real life, but one of my impression was that the signs are accompanied by a more "active" body language, especially facial expressions. Maybe it's a sampling issue (I've seen really, really few people sign.) But I thought they were making up for the lack of expressivity of signing. And I also thought that Shizune's range of sometimes exaggerated expression (madface, sparkly kitten face...) was a hint towards that aspect.

I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself well. It took me a while to notice, and I'm afraid that I'm making something up here, and I'm embarrassing myself.

Am I making any sense at all?

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Murkglow
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Murkglow » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:24 am

BobBobberson wrote:You know how when you think, it's mostly in your own voice. How would Shizune think if she doesn't know what she sounds like, let alone know how to speak? Does she just imagine text?
The most thought provoking part of this for me is the question itself. Do you hear "yourself" when you think? I don't. I don't hear any voices when I think, even when I'm running words through my head (like I am right now typing) there isn't any "sound" or "voice" attached to them (least of all my own). I don't "see" the words, nothing. I'm "aware" of my thoughts "coming" and "going" but beyond that I can't say much more. If I specifically pull up a voice from memory I can "hear" it of course but that's really it for me. I don't really notice any of my senses attached to my thoughts unless I specifically call for them. It's kinda amazing to me that some do hear their own voice (appearently)...
Last edited by Murkglow on Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mirrormn
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Mirrormn » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:10 am

Dawnstorm wrote: Am I making any sense at all?
Definitely, and I agree with you about most of the specifics of translation... I just disagree in its overall effect, I guess. Despite the conversational idiosyncrasies you point out (things like using "Well" as an introductory appositive), I think Hisao and Shizune's sign language conversation feel stiff and formal, overall, which seems completely intentional and necessary to the subtext of the story (particularly, that sign language conversation involves too much forethought to reach the same emotional honesty as speech conversation).
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nemz
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by nemz » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:24 am

Murkglow wrote:The most thought provoking part of this for me is the question itself. Do you hear "yourself" when you think?
Not always, but sometimes. It's like having a conversation with myself, or perhaps a second me reading off the script for what's going on upstairs so that I know what I'm thinking about, or rather what I was thinking about. It's the difference between thinking and thinking aboutthinking, with the 'hearing myself' only occurring in the second mode. In the first It's just as you described, sensations and responses zooming through my awareness, but as soon as I stop to consider the things I'm thinking rather than simply being aware of them passively I'm in the second mode and dictating my thoughts to myself for consideration. Perhaps in order to think about a thought it has to be transcribed in some way, given a name, a sort of form and shape rather than simply remaining an intangible experience, and in so doing becomes bound up in language?
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metalangel
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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by metalangel » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:27 am

Dawnstorm wrote:
I'll stop here. Even if I'm wrong here, I hope you see my problem. (If you don't, I doubt more examples are going to help.) The conversations read exactly like normal conversation; and that sort of downplays the problems with getting emotions across. I've seen few people sign in real life, but one of my impression was that the signs are accompanied by a more "active" body language, especially facial expressions. Maybe it's a sampling issue (I've seen really, really few people sign.) But I thought they were making up for the lack of expressivity of signing. And I also thought that Shizune's range of sometimes exaggerated expression (madface, sparkly kitten face...) was a hint towards that aspect.

I'm not sure if I'm expressing myself well. It took me a while to notice, and I'm afraid that I'm making something up here, and I'm embarrassing myself.

Am I making any sense at all?
I think it's an excellent post. Like I said before, the interesting thing about KS and signing is that we're only getting stuff that's been translated into grammatically correct English. Because we're not seeing complete facial and body movements, we're sort of dependent on the translation to understand. I suppose that by making it into written English the game is compensating for not having the full set of inputs, and we're 'reading' the intended meaning of the signs, body language and facial expressions combined. Mirrormn's point about this translation still being 'stiff' for Hisao is a good one too.

I wonder if the 'well' would have been a shrug and a sort of 'meh' face.

If you want to see some very expressive signing, watch this video (I love it, hilarious)

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Re: How do deaf people think?

Post by Kutagh » Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:32 am

metalangel wrote:
Dawnstorm wrote:..
I think it's an excellent post. Like I said before, the interesting thing about KS and signing is that we're only getting stuff that's been translated into grammatically correct English. Because we're not seeing complete facial and body movements, we're sort of dependent on the translation to understand. I suppose that by making it into written English the game is compensating for not having the full set of inputs, and we're 'reading' the intended meaning of the signs, body language and facial expressions combined. Mirrormn's point about this translation still being 'stiff' for Hisao is a good one too.

I wonder if the 'well' would have been a shrug and a sort of 'meh' face.

If you want to see some very expressive signing, watch this video (I love it, hilarious)
Interpreting is not a direct translation of signs to words (or vice versa), it is interpreting the meaning and conveying that into the other representation. I think that is why we are getting the meaning of what is being said, instead of the 'raw signs', we're getting an interpreted version of the signs.
You thought that was very expressive?

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