ASL–Glossing

People like her make me drool in envy. The signing is beautiful, flawless, and meaningful. Each sign holds a purpose in the overall song. The glossing appears effortless.

Truth be told?

The process is painful.

First, I have to translate the song into ASL. Since ASL carries a completely different syntax than English, it really is translating. For instance, a line from the song above:

Lead me with strong hands

Actually translates to:

BELONG-MOVING APART-BREAK APART

Or something similar, because the lady in that video uses mainly visual signs–signs that present a visual/concept and not a single word.

For further examples, lines from “Breathe Into Me” by Red, which my friend and I glossed:

And this is how it looks when I am standing on the edge

DON’T LIKE WORLD FEEL AFRAID

And this is how I break apart when I finally hit the ground

JUMP BREAK NOW DON’T WANT

And this is how it hurts when I pretend I don’t feel any pain

HIDE PAIN SHOW-OUT NOTHING

And this is how I disappear when I throw myself away

MY LIFE WORTH NOTHING THROW AWAY

The words in caps are the ASL translations, and you’ll notice they are either visual or conceptual. Take this line, for instance:

And this is how it looks when I am standing on the edge

DON’T LIKE WORLD FEEL AFRAID

The translation says what the line means–conceptual This, in my opinion, is the hardest part of sign language. I need to figure out what the line means, how it connects to other lines, and learn the signs. In the case above, I knew the signs already, which simplifies my job.

Visual signs are easier–the above video demonstrates visual signing perfectly. Even if you don’t know sign language (I imagine the majority of my readers do not, but correct me if I’m wrong!), you can easily see the story of the words played out in her hands. Example:

And this is how it hurts when I pretend I don’t feel any pain

HIDE PAIN SHOW-OUT NOTHING

Then, once the glossing is finished (the hardest part, by far), I learn the signs in accompaniment to the music. If the song is fast (“This is War”), it’s harder. Slow songs, like “Everything”, or songs with few signs, like “Breathe Into Me”, are easier to learn.

Once I learn the songs, I coordinate with my partner-in-crime and we figure out who has the best translation of each line–unless we translated the song together, in which case we try to coordinate our signing. This is still difficult because both of us adapt our signing to the music and we each end up with different interpretations. “This is War” is still the only song we’ve managed to sign in exact unison with the exact same signs.

So, if you could see any song put into sign language, which one would you want to see? 😀

And I suppose that concludes my post on ASL! I apologize for not posting in so long–I sorta forgot about my blog. *blush*

~Mercia Dragonslayer

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About merciatremblac

I'm a junior in college, creative writing major, currently living in the mountains of North Carolina with my best friend for a roommate.
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