45 | Sign Language 101

Signs Language font  by zanatlija
Signs Language font by zanatlija (downloadable from dafont)

Moving onto what I’m going to unofficially call the “language arts” section of the 64 Arts, we’re starting with the quiet one:

45 Sign Language
Using the mudra, or symbolic gestures of the theater.

Three things immediately come to mind when I think of sign language…

1-In elementary song, for some assembly or another, our class learned a song in sign language about friendship. Searching online I was able to find the lyrics but not a video of anyone singing/signing it:

Friends, everybody needs friends.
Someone to share your day with me, to cheer up when you’re feeling blue.
Friends, would you like to be friends?
Would you like to share the day with me, to be who you want that you wanna be.
We all need each other, that’s what friends are for,
So if your see someone, without a smile, give ’em one of yours.
Friends, would you like to be friends?
Would you like to share the day with me?
To be who you want that you wanna be.
Friends, would you like to be friends?
Because, your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friends, and your friends are MY FRIENDS TOOO.

I remember a handful of the signs (bad pun totally unintended), including the linked index fingers sign for “friends,” but not much else. Still, it’s something.

2-Seeing The Miracle Worker with Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft when I was in middle school. Knowing this Art was coming up I found it on Amazon Instant Video and watched it again–I forgot how “old” the 1962 looked, especially in the opening scenes, but it was still amazing to watch. I see that Disney remade the movie with Hallie Kate Eisneberg but I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch it.

If you want to read something rather extraordinary, look at Helen Keller’s autobiography. There’s actually more than one, but The Story of My Life is available via U Penn’s digital library and it really is a fascinating read.

 

3-The signing monkey from the Madagascar movies. Not only are they a) monkeys and b) hilarious, I watched the movie once with an ASL interpreter and she about fell off the couch when she say the flinging poo scene and confirmed that they accurately animated the question, using the more vulgar term at that!

(Direct link for the feed readers: Monkeys vs. Tom Wolfe)

There, I think I’ve successfully brought the conversation down out of the rafters with that last one. Still, sign language (be it ASL or one of the other hundreds of types out there) is really impressive, and I have amazing respect for anyone able to communicate with it. I also find it fascinating how different cultures and communities create their own shared signals organically.

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