Anonymous asked: Hi! I'm currently a year 12 student in NSW and am considering exploring the Deaf culture through my major works for drama in the HSC. I found the play Tribes by Nina Raine and want to turn it into a monologue and learn basic Auslan (I found a course in my area for next term) so I can sign in my monologue. I was wondering your opinion on this in terms of respect for the Deaf culture and in difficulty. Thanks!
Hi there, I have never seen or read this play, so I can’t comment on the play itself other than side eye the fact that it was written by a hearing person with no real connection to a Deaf community that I can find (I won’t lie, it was a real quick search). I don’t know how difficult it would be to translate a monologue from this play as I don’t know which part you would be using. Basically there’s not enough context here for me to be able to comment.
I would say that if you were planning to translate it yourself, that it is generally fairly difficult for anyone to translate into a language they’ve only spent a few weeks learning. Like, if I wanted to translate a monologue into French (which I can’t speak or read, but have definitely had a few weeks worth of classes in) and I used like google translate and a French dictionary I think the final product would be fairly difficult to understand for a French speaker. I do understand that it might seem like Auslan is more related to English than French is to English, but this is just not true, they are completely different languages, like I’ve been studying Auslan for nearly two years, and I don’t know that I would be completely confident to translate a text for a performance.
I really can’t comment on the cultural aspects of what this would mean; I don’t know who you are and I don’t know anything about this play or which parts/angles you would be taking on it. But, I would say that when hearing people play Deaf characters it is pretty uncool.
I think that I am definitely not the person to be asking about this, like I am hearing (and grumpy), if you genuinely want to do this in a respectful way (and I have to say it might not be possible to do it respectfully and you need to be prepared to accept that and pick a different thing to do) you should talk to some Deaf folks rather than random hearing people on the Internet.
I think it’s really cool that you want to learn Auslan! Anyway, good luck with your studies, and I hope you can find someone to help you nut this out!
lifeasiknowitxx asked: Okay so I am teaching myself auslan through signplanet and my auslan dictionary. But I'm not sure when I sign sentences. Like is the structure the same as when you would talk ? Or different? Could you help me? :)
Hey there, it’s awesome that you wanna learn Auslan! If I’m being completely honest I am not too sure that learning a visual language from books and websites (or any language really but anyway) rather than from a native signer [and in my experience the best people to learn from are Deaf people, because hearing people tend to sign differently and also, don’t necessarily connect with the language in the same ways] is going to be very effective at all (See this [link] for a longer rant on this subject).
However, as I’ve sad before not everyone can afford a course, but really, you should have a look about to see if you can find anything in your area, or any people who might be willing to skillshare (I mean, I know it can be intimidating to a) meet new people b) talk to them in a language you don’t speak well at all, but I really do believe that signing with folks who are willing to correct you, or take the time and energy to encourage and teach you is the best way to learn - usually this means you need to pay for a course, or you can also volunteer about the place as well if you’re lucky and enthusiastic!)
Anyway, to answer your question (and let’s not forget that I am a hearing person, and I am currently still studying Auslan so I am really not the best person to ask about this and am probably going to point you toward some books to read and then suggest again that you do a course or ask someone more qualified than me) :
Auslan sentence structure is quite different from English structure, in fact (fun fact time!) I’ve heard that grammatically speaking it has more in common with spoken Japanese than it does with English. The simple reason for this is that they are two completely separate languages! I feel like I can’t emphasise this enough; if you are signing Auslan in English structure, it may not make sense, it won’t be easy to understand, and it definitely won’t be correct signing.
The wonderful lukraak recently posted something about Auslan structure, which may help you get an idea about how different the structure can be [link], but this is just one example, and there are many aspects of grammar which are not really easy to describe in written form (eg Non Manual Features which are things like the way you hold your body (forward/backward) and head (nodding/shaking/forward) while signing something might change the meaning from past to present continuous to future to I didn’t do that action or I won’t), I think the most comprehensive text on the subject is probably Adam Schembri and Trevor Johnston’s Australian Sign Langauge : An Introduction to sign language linguistics, which you can maybe find in some major libraries. I know that a few around Melbourne do, but I dunno where you are, so can’t tell you where to go!
My brain’s a bit gooey at the moment, so I can’t give you anything more solid, but I’ll probs post some more tips and stuff when I am less brain melty, and back in the country (so can consult teachers etc.) Hope this has been some kind of helpful!
Also, did you know that in Australia Auslan has been added to the national curriculum as a LOTE subject? If you happen to be in school still it might be worth a little research and petitioning to see if you can get it as a subject.
Anyway, lemme know if this is not enough/too much info, and if there’s anything I can do to help!
Good luck with your studies!
[image is a moving gif of a silly looking white butch with a shocked expression fingerspelling OMG in the Auslan (BANZSL) alphabet. end image]
Feeling chuffed, but also worried.
On a side note, good luck for tomoz Cole!!! You’ll be brilliant!