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6 responses to “Knowing Only the Present”

  1. Yes, fascinating – and how about the idea that you are a different person (or perhaps more accurately behave as a different person) when you speak a different language? (In fact in French class we were assigned French names … perhaps ‘Angele’ is this alter-ego still).

  2. As an ESL teacher, I could go on and on about grammar and language… but that will have to wait for a less busy lifetime. Anyway, this sort of thing is always interesting. Although coming from someone who can say things like, “I love teaching the conditional but I hate teaching modals,” it may be suspect.

  3. As a sign language interpreter, I have to pipe up and say that ASL is one of the most difficult languages to learn (as an adult), despite the misconceptions people have about it (every word has a sign, and every word in a sentence is signed). It’s a visual, gestural language with a syntax very diferent from English, and you have to ENTIRELY and COMPLETELY change the way you think. You have to think in visual terms. Does that make ANY sense? And, when interpreting, you are communicating the meaning of an utterance — i/e, in English, we have about a bajillion meanings for the one word “run,” but in ASL, you sign the meaning/the concept behind it. Running a machine is different from running a meeting and running to the store and your running nose. Oh, it’s difficult to explain in writing!

    But ASL can also employ simultaneous communication, which makes it terrifically cool!

  4. Nope, I mean….well, it’s hard to explain without showing you. There’s the sign for “day,” and there’s the sign for “three.” You can make the three handshape with one hand while, at the same time, signing day with the same hand to indicate “3 days.” Same for weeks, months, years, many other things. You can also use what are called classifiers in ASL (talk about changing the way you think — whew! Classifiers are challenging), which show the movement, location, and appearance of a thing. After a signer indicates a person or thing, a classifier can be used in its place to show where and how it moves, what it looks like, and where it is located. So, the classifer for “car” can be signed, and you can show the car swerving, swerving while driving quickly, while simultaneously showing the driver falling asleep….all of that, of course, indicating, say, someone falling asleep at the wheel and swerving from the road. All of those utterances/meanings communicated simultaneously, whereas in spoken English we have to take it one step at a time. :)

    Did you see this I posted at 7-Imp? http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=906. Perfect display of classifiers in actions, not to mention one of the coolest ASL A-B-C poems I’ve ever seen.

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