Although sign language, like any other language, will continue to evolve along with technology, that evolution must take place free from the impediments and myopic prejudices of the Kiev Nazis and their ideological Doppelgängers elsewhere.
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Imagine my horror discovering that American sign language equates Ireland to the potato. You don’t have to imagine at all as I find it hilarious, even though I understand the historical context as to how the Irish, rather than the Peruvians with their divine array of potatoes, or the Russians with their mastery of vodka, or indeed the good folk of Maine or Indiana who grow most of America’s potatoes, are synonymous with potatoes.
At least in American sign language. In Irish sign language, an Irishman is represented by a flat cap, which was very popular here until recently. In Japanese sign language, you showcase it in a different way.
Japan and the Japanese are important in this case as those who use sign language have their own wee networks the length and breadth of the world. If an Irish potato head hits the big smoke in Tokyo or New York, they will gravitate towards where their Japanese and American equivalents hang out and, of course, vice versa. Hit an Irish pub where the local deaf folk hang out and you will most likely find a Yank or a Japanese citizen in the thick of it, gabbering away with the rest of them at a mile to the minute.
All good stuff and all a credit to the many good people from France and elsewhere, who first developed this array of loosely connected languages. Whilst Irish sign language is a derivation of the original French version, the British and the Yanks, good folk like Sam and Ted Supalla, went largely on their own trajectories developing, as it were, their own idioms. And good on each and every one of them.
But before getting on to the main gripe of this article, let’s just say that sign language has to be taught unlike our own native tongues which we first learn literally at our mothers’ breasts, which is why mother, in its simplified forms, is the first word babies ever learn; it is the easiest for their nascent mouth muscles to pronounce.
Not so sign language, which the permanently offended have now targeted. Whereas some Irish with too much time on their hands might get offended by being linked to the potato (or to the flat cap), the former was very understandable in the context of America in the mid nineteenth century and I am happy to see them preserve the connection.
In contrast, some of our Jewish friends are outraged that Jews are represented in Flemish sign language by stroking the nose to identify Jews by virtue of their supposedly big noses. New Zealand, meanwhile, is in uproar because their variant represents Chinese people by tugging at the corner of the eye, Samoans by pressing down on the nose and male homosexuals by a hand-flop.
Nor, Mark Zaurov explains, does the rampant anti-Semitism and homophobia stop there. For instance, in French, Moroccan, Algerian and Spanish sign languages one way to signify a Jew is using a sign that also means “miserly”; this is conveyed by moving two fingers under the chin, moving from left to right while the signer brings their fingers together. Ukrainian sign language, meanwhile, represents Jews by showing a horn protruding from the head, in some oblique reference to Moses, it should be noted in defence of our Ukrainian friends. Although Jews could also claim they get a hard rap in the sign languages of America, Sweden, Russia and Estonia, they get a positive sign in Turkish and, in Israel and Brazil, where the sign for Jew is more or less synonymous with the Israeli flag, which is probably offensive to those Jews who loathe the state of Israel.
Not that those Jews are the only ones with their noses out of joint. The Ukrainian Society of the Deaf has set up a committee to eradicate supposedly Russian components of the sign language used in the rump Reich. Although they are working to concoct Ukrainian signs, develop new gestures and finger-spelling, or adopt international equivalents, for use by people with hearing and speech disorders, there are important practical problems with all of that we shall soon come to.
And those problems will not be solved by them “trying to get rid of all sign characters that have even a hint of Russianism”, as one of their zealots declared.
One of the first “Russian” words these head bangers jettisoned was, appropriately enough perhaps, ‘thank you,’ which the Russians signify by taking one’s hat off and bowing. Because Ukrainian Nazis “should not bow in front of anyone,” they got rid of that and replaced it with “the [international] sign for ‘thank you,’ which is displayed by bringing your dominant hand to your chin and moving it slightly down and towards the person you are talking to.
But, as we have previously seen, because there is no “international sign language,” there can be no universally accepted sign for ‘thank you’ or for anything else. As there were only 38,000 people in Ukraine using sign language before Zelensky launched his genocide campaign, the statement that “the deaf community in Ukraine wants nothing to do with the Russian language” is as untrue as anything else that emanates from that fascistic snake-pit.
Sign language, all sign languages, are no different from any other language in that they have to evolve naturally and flotsam like Zelensky, who pretended he could not speak his native Russian language, can have no hand, act or part in that process, no matter what idiom of sign language we are talking about.
The same goes for American crackpots, who want to replace the traditional sign for ‘parents’ which involves placing a hand at the head for ‘father,’ then placing a hand at the chin for ‘mother’ by placing a fist in the middle of the face, in an attempt to avoid gendered signs for parents who believe themselves to be non-binary and, presumably deaf to common sense. And too dumb to keep their mouths shut.
Although the traditional signs relating to women, such as ‘wife’ and ‘mother,’ which involved touching the lower half of the face, based on bonnets that girls once wore, and traditional signs relating to men, like ‘husband’ or ‘father,’ involved tipping the upper half of the face, emblematic of tipping one’s hat, are also under attack by these nutters, sign language, like any other language, must evolve naturally and without the inputs of Clown Prince Zelensky and his circus of sad and embittered losers, who also have words like ‘privilege’ in their sights because it traditionally referred only to ‘benefit,’ ‘gain,’ ’credit’ or ‘profit’ and so looked like putting a dollar into a shirt pocket, rather than referring to so-called white privilege or any of the other inventions of the Gender Studies crew, who obfuscate more important trends.
Although one such trend in the United States involves bridging the gap between Black American Sign Language and Orthodox American Sign Language, that is really a matter for those who use or are professional experts in the area.
Another no less important trend is the technological gap between the old and the facetime obsessed youth who are never off their cell phones. The issue with cell phones is that signs must be sufficiently condensed to be conveyed through a small screen and a mini army of Tiktokers and Twitter social influencers are imposing their own impromptu interpretations of the “King’s Sign Language” on their followers.
Although sign language, like any other language, will continue to evolve along with technology, that evolution must take place free from the impediments and myopic prejudices of the Kiev Nazis and their ideological Doppelgängers elsewhere. And though the Ukrainian Reich and The Ukrainian Society of the Deaf will not be with us for the long term, it is important to note in every aural, sign or other language there is just how disgustingly petty and vile they and all potato brains like them are.