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Madeline Svengsouk's picture

I was super excited to see my hometown of Rochester New York mentioned in both the deaf-gain piece as well as in Deaf Jam! I've mentioned before in class that Rochester has a large deaf community, but I wasn't aware until 2 days ago that that's maily because the Rochester Institute of Technology is home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. But I digress.

"Here is a language that cannot exist in a book. It is the irony of ironies that the perfect example of orality is from a language that isn't oral." - Bob Holman 

In the deaf-gain paper, I especially liked the sections on deaf literature. The idea that signed languages have "unique visual and spatial properties" that lend themselves to crafting poetic image and metaphor became even more concrete to me in Deaf Jam when seeing signed slam poetry in action. Seeing how spoken rhyme differs from visual rhyme was so cool! It makes sense- visual repitition is a type of rhyme after all. However, because of this, translating poetry across the two languages seems to be incredibly difficult. I liked how at a slam poetry competition primarly attended by hearing folks, Aneta decided not to have her poem translated because she wanted the viewers to focus on the imagery. Just like when Aneta says she can appreciate music without hearing the words by feeling the beat, the audience is made to undergo a similar but parallel experience. 

On a personal note, when I was home over Winter break my sister's friend and her baby came over for dinner. The baby's name is Iro (named after uncle Iro in Avatar the last airbender) and he was only 1 at the time. As we played with different toys, I realized that he wasn't speaking yet, but was using sign that his mother had taught him to communicate with the people around him. At one point, my cat was outside and Iro kept signing "cat" and "please open" so we would open the door for him and let him out to pet the cat. It was incredibly cute. This makes me think of how sign not only enables people to commuicate without sharing a common language beforehand, but also enables those who might not yet posess conventional language abilities to begin with. As the deaf-gain paper says, many hearing parents have begun to use ASL, and rightly so with it's ability to enrich learning and comprehension.