1. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Punctuation for Sign Language?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by LoneWolfSolace, Jul 23, 2008.

    I have a strange sort of story where quite a bit of the dialouge is through signing. However, there is also a good bit of singing, and thinking (internal dialouge), and of course there is speaking. It is very important for the reader to know when the characters switch, and putting 'she signed' or 'she said' after each switch would ruin the 'flow' of the writing, which is VERY important. I know singing is usually italicized with quotations while silent thought is italicized without quotation, but how would I show that the 'speaker' is signing?

    "Should I stay here?" (Speaking)
    Should I stay here? (Silent thought)
    "Should I stay or should I go?" (Singing, tee hee)

    Stay where you are (Signing?)
     
  2. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    *(insertdialoguehere)* is common with odd forms of speech such as telepathy, and as long as you establish it represents signing, that could work. Also -(insertdialoguehere)-, or under-score, or any number of methods as long as it's clear what means what.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Italicizing any kind of dialogue to distinguish it is not standard, and your writing should nevre depend on it for clarity. The writing should always make it clear through context what form the dialogue takes. Whether that is in tags or beats or narrative setup is an author's choice, but there are only two methods endorsed by any of the standard writing guides I have seen: ordinary quoted dialogue, which may be used in any context, including internal dialogue (British punctuation may exchange the roles of the single and double quote marks), and dialogue with the quote marks omitted, for internal dialogue (literal thought) only.

    Although a particular publisher may choose to typeset some types of dialogue in italics, another may not, and the author should never count on typography to convey meaning.
     
  4. BatCountry
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    BatCountry Senior Member

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    Well, Brian Jacques does the singing by this format

    Here's some dialogue etc. and then this person starts singing

    "This is the song part
    He centers the verses
    And he also italicizes it
    But the songs he writes are
    Pretty long so only do this
    If your character really wants
    to sing"
     
  5. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    You could always establish early that such and such character(s) have a tendency of communicating in sign. I've read books before with characters that signed as a from of communication, one of the recent ones included a character whose best friend often signed to him. Often the author, instead of indicating through "Liz signed" would simply say that the MC was reading her words, becuase that was what he was doing, or she's write that he looked at her and describe the words she was signing (Dane looked over, Liz's hands moving rapidly "How could you do that to your father? have you no repect?")

    Basically, she deascribed Liz's hand motions and followed it with the message Liz was conveying.
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's a novel idea...do the sign language in Braile! (soooo sorry, couldn't resist!)

    Seriously, I agree with Cog on this. Use regular dialog format with clarification through context.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'd have to ditto that... it's the way the best writers do things... and do you want to emulate the best, or lesser lights?
     
  8. skip slocum
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    skip slocum Member

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    Also FYI: deaf people do not use short words in their speech.
    For the most part they talk like a bad 'Lone-Ranger' episode.
     
  9. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Yes, I realize this. What you are describing is Pidgeon (English word order with certain words omitted). True ASL has a very different syntax from English, but using this would make the novel very confusing, and overall I believe it would take away from the story. Sometimes I have the younger character leave out words and shorten sentances to show she is inexperienced (signing is new to her) but I usually have the Deaf lady's sentances written clearly to convey a sense of fluency. This is something I will fiddle around with a bit.

    Honestly, I have always seen singing italicized.

    The two main characters (Song and Blue) often have long conversations, and usually switch between speech and signing multiple times in one conversation. It wouldn't be at all pratical to point out every time they switched, and doing so would be confusing and ruin the mood.

    Opening lines:

    Those who enter the mountains do not return.
    This is not the place for me.
    Those who go there do so to die.
    There is no place for me.

    The opening chapter goes on to describe a girl running into the mountains while also revealing the girl's inner thoughts. The story is written in third person, and the italiczed lines are internal thought of the main character (the girl). I don't see how this could be written with only clarification through context.

    At some point I will type up one of the sign-heavy chapters and submit it to show what I mean. The examples shown in this thread work fine for single lines, but I just don't see how it would work for some of the conversations between Song and Blue. If I ever get some of them typed up, perhaps you can show me a better way.

    Thank you, everyone, for the advice.

    btw, I'm not worried about emulating anyone. I write my own stories for my own reasons.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's 'pidgin'... not spelled like the bird... and what is being referred to is probably tonto's stupidly insulting way of supposedly speaking 'indian'-style english... i knew him in real life, btw!... met jay silverheels along with a batch of more major la-la-land celebs way back...

    anyway... i don't know that deaf folks use the 'pidgin' approach, nor can i think of any reason why they would, since they're not really translating into english from a foreign language, but creating their own version of english...
     
  11. skip slocum
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    skip slocum Member

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    Whee haw I get to give you an education,,,
    Having gone to the school of the deaf I learned that for the most part the shorter words would slow them down.
    We might say; May I go outside for a smoke brake?
    They say; Please out smoke brake.
    The smaller words are omitted for convenance.
     
  12. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    To answer your question: using your idea as a set standard is fine.

    I would suggest using "-" before sign to show that it is not "Spoken"

    IE:

    -Italic- = Sign
    "Italic" = Thought
    "Standard" = spoken

    The big thing to do here is to keep it consistent in the story so that the readers know what is going on. Once the reader understands what is what, it is east for them to grasp what is going on.

    Also note - Most hearing impaired people fill in the "gaps" when signing, so if someone signs

    - are - we - go - store - now -

    The receiver (As well as speaker) fills in the gaps and you get "Are we go(ing) (to the) store now (?)" by reading body language and facial expressions conveys important aspects of language and discussion for the Hearing Impaired and deaf.

    You might even want to consider writing your "Sign" like I have it above.

    I might add you need to talk with a deaf (hearing impaired) person to grasp how sign works, or at the very least a professional interpreter (I would be glad to extend my service to you for this project). Sign language is a visual language and understanding it might not easy over the internet.

    Ungood.
     
  13. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Which School?
     
  14. skip slocum
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    skip slocum Member

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    The one down in tucson Az.
     
  15. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    No bells are going off regarding a school for the deaf in that area, am I to assume you are referring to a High School or something?

    Can you provide me a name? Perhaps something I can look up, as I have done undergraduate studies at NTID and I never heard of "school for the deaf in Tuscan AZ" on the college level.
     
  16. skip slocum
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    skip slocum Member

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    Cable went out)
    No I do not remember the name except it was an instatute for the deaf and blind.
    I had hearing problems as a child and MD told my folks to take me to this school so my mother and I could compleat the courses before I went totally deaf. (i never did go totally deaf)
    They had an extencive program for training Eye-Dogs and a section for the deaf.
    It is located in Tucson Az. but I was very young and do not remember the name.
    (I still have my American Sign Language books thou)
    PS: 1971
     
  17. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Ah. Fair enough.

    Are you currently hearing impaired?

    Ungood.
     
  18. skip slocum
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    skip slocum Member

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    yes left ear 60% loss right 30% (Years around diesel engines didn't help)
     
  19. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    Establish early on in the story that the character is deaf, and then simply treat the signing as regular dialogue. My son uses sign language and to me he’s just speaking same as any other person, only in silence. Instead of using the tag ‘he said’ just use the tag ‘he signed’. I think discussing the movement of his hands overly much will take away from the dialogue itself. If I am grammatically wrong about this, someone will let me know. Anyway that’s my take on it, so no one sue me over it.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    which supports my belief that it's more a 'consciously created' language, than 'pidgin' which results from not being able to speak a foreign language fluently...
     
  21. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    That works Penhobby, as it is "speaking" in every sense of the word - think of casual speech sometimes and what gets "left unsaid" for the sake of "just chilling".
     
  22. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Perhaps I wasn't clear, but I have two characters who BOTH speak in sign and speech. Meaning, she dosen't only sign, she also speaks, so that will not work.

    Yes, I spelled it wrong. Oops.

    My Deaf ASL teacher told me that a fair amount of Deaf people use pidgin syntax, and I want to say she said 'true' ASL was rarer, but I'm not completely certain. I will text her and see what she says. I don't understand your argument against pidgin- sorry. I would think pidgin would be more useful than ASL syntax, because I would think that Deaf people more commonly sign with hearing people (family and friends who have learned sign, but communicate mostly in spoken English). When conversing with these people, they would more easily pick up pidgin rather than ASL because pidgin is much closer to 'true' English. Although there are Deaf communities and families, I still think pidgin would be more useful to a Deaf person because they could use it more often, and it would more easily get their point across to most people they want to converse with. It would also be better if they needed to write something because the other person didn't know sign. Now, if we change the situation to two Deaf people conversing, then I am not sure which they would use. I suppose it is a matter of personal preference.

    JMHO
     
  23. Ungood
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    Ungood Contributing Member

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    Well LonewolfSolace to help answer some of your questions.

    To start off you can ignore most (if not all) of what mammamaia said about sign language as it appears that he is speaking from limited to no exposure to deaf culture/community. I could be wrong, but his philosophies seem so off the mark that I am left with very limited conclusions and lack of exposure seems to the be the most benign assumption.

    Now to answer your question about ASL vs PSE in conversations. For two deaf people that enjoy ASL as a means of communication they would use ASL as their primary means of discussion.

    Also note that the signs in ASL and PSE are for the most part interchangeable. Meaning, that a deaf person that knows and is fluent in PSE can grasp an ASL conversation even if not fully understand the "All" of what is being said.

    Note as well that almost ALL deaf people that have learned ASL also will know PSE and can use it fluently as such using ASL or PSE between deaf people is not uncommon. Some deaf people will even in some cases mix the two or shift over mid conversation.

    IE: The conversation starts polite and they use PSE, then it speeds up because of emotional input: (Excitement, Anger, Arousal, Etc) and they switch over to ASL to keep up with the "Moment".

    I would like to put forth that not all hearing impaired people "like" ASL as a means of communication and prefer PSE as it is English and they do not need to do as much "gap filling" as they would for ASL. That becomes a personal issue with the individual but this is something to consider when you write your story. What type of sign language do the people like to use.

    There are also issues with sentence structure and other things when it comes to ASL vs PSE as well, but I am not going to get into that here.

    Please take Note: Almost NO deaf person uses SEE for conversations, and NONE of them would use SEE for casual discussion. However some of them do know SEE, and given that SEE and PSE use the same identical signs just SEE has the addition of prefixes and suffixes like "ing" they could understand SEE with ease. Also note that PSE has signs for all the words and parts of a sentence, just most deaf people do not use them.

    Think "L33t Sp34k" to a minor form.

    Now in the book "Children of a Lesser God" their were discussions between a deaf girl and a hearing man and the way the author did this was to have the man 'Repeat' what was signed (The author did this for all signs and things like that - someone - at some time - would "say" the signs).

    This was done to generate a narrative of the "Signs" to that reader could know what was going on.

    Also note: Talking and Signing at the same time is a big "no-no" don't do it. Have them sign or talk not both. I would go into a long explanation as to why, but just trust me, don't do it.
     
  24. LoneWolfSolace
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    LoneWolfSolace Member

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    Hmmm- now you've got me curious! I more or less already knew the rest of your post, but I've never heard of this last bit. My ASL teacher often spoke and signed at the same time, but I suppose that was to get us students used to seeing sign, while still being able to understand her explaination.

    Also, to be sure I understand- you mean talking and signing at the same time, as in signing the words you are saying, right? (As opposed to signing and talking in one conversation, or switching back and forth.) The only time that (same time/same words and signs) happens in the story is when the Deaf lady is teaching a sign to the younger girl. There are also a few times she signs when singing- is this a big deal, too?

    Thank you for your posts, Ungood. :)
     
  25. Ungood
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    Yes, instructional.singing, and other forms of public "communication" it is acceptable to "Sign and Vocal" at the same time.

    This is mainly done via practice of timing of speech control.

    Teachers/Instructors need to use both to "teach" the class what sign means what. Typical necessity dictates that, but an instructor is not having a casual conversation with you.

    The only other time it is done is when a person is talking with a hearing person that they know they can talk with, they might slip in a few signs from time to time out of habit. this mainly affects interpreters or hearing impaired that still have a high quality of hearing left. In these cases the signing is not the main means of communication, it almost always subconsciously done.

    That would be the correct time to do it. Yes. I was talking about "casual" discussion not formal instruction.

    This depends on the situation.

    This is one of the many "tricks" family members of a deaf or hearing impaired child/sibling/significant other will use to learn sign language. They take the words of a song and learn the signs to them and then sing/sign the words to reinforce the instruction and application of sign language. Is some cases this can cause a bit of humor as they might need to "hum the song" to remember the sign. (Think the Alphabet Song)

    I am glad some of what I have said helps you.
     

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