The UK has healthcare rights too, enforcing them has proved chaotic, postcode-driven, or simply non-extant. Anyone can pass a law not everyone can or will benefit from them, THAT is the problem. E.G. in the UK there is NO system to support those with hearing loss who do not rely on sign language, indeed no demand coming from the Hard of Hearing for that help, go figure... Wonder if down under their HoH are asleep too?
Tuesday, 27 August 2019
After complaints on social media about some sign language signs, NZSL Dictionary editor Rachel McKee says people shouldn't jump to conclusions when they see signs they interpret as offensive.
A leading linguist and editor of the New Zealand Sign Language Dictionary says people shouldn't overreact to signs that might be seen as offensive. NZSL is a language like any other, she says, and people shouldn't make value judgments about the communities that speak it. Rachel McKee, an associate professor at Victoria University of Wellington's School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, was responding to social media reports saying the words for Jew, Chinese, Gay and Samoan in NZSL are inappropriate.
Juliet Moses, a spokesperson for the Jewish Council of New Zealand, said that the organisation was "concerned to discover last week the use of an offensive stereotype to sign 'Jew'".
Deaf Aotearoa did not respond to a request for comment. At issue is the stereotypical depictions of a handful of minority groups. According to the NZSL Dictionary, one of the ways to sign Jew is to make a hook-nosed gesture. One of the words for Chinese involves tugging at the corner of your eye. Gay is represented by a hand flip and Samoan by pressing down on your nose.
But McKee says that the dictionary is a record of NZSL, not the arbiter of it. "The job of a dictionary is to record, document and describe the language as people use it, not to prescribe it," she said. "A good dictionary documents language usage, it doesn't attempt to be the arbiter of the correct and only way to say things."
McKee pointed out that the hook-nosed sign for Jew is marked as being an "older variation" on the dictionary website and a newer one evokes a beard instead. Chinese, Gay and Samoan also have alternative signs in the dictionary. She drew a comparison to how English has evolved in other respects. The word Negro is no longer used to describe black people in the United States, "but it is a term that you would still find in the dictionary," she explained.
Moses said that the offensive signs could be done away with. "Societies and languages evolve. In recognition of that, UK sign language has abandoned the use of these derogatory stereotypes. We understand that NZ Sign Language has indicated it is open to doing this as well, and we would encourage it to do so," she said. In response, McKee says that there is no one body that decides what is or isn't NZSL, just like there is no authority that decides what is or isn't English. "The arbiter of a language are the people who use the language," she said.
But, she conceded, NZSL is always evolving. "Usage, like in all languages, changes over time as people are in contact with other groups of people that they haven't been in contact with before, or they see new things or they reconsider the impact on people."
"That's very much the case with sign language too."
ATR: As per usual the easily offended are creating another cause celeb to be annoyed with. As every deafie knows it is all about CONTEXT, not just the sign which can be interpreted numerous ways via body/facial action too. Language evolves via colloquialisms also, 'mongrel' signs that with frequent use become part of the established language norm over time, (Including swear words/terms), they can disappear via less use too. Many older deaf still use signs that are alleged to be 'offensive' to various nationalities and minorities. I suspect in 50 years many deaf there will also find their 'BSL' pretty obsolete too.
Old habits die hard, but it is basically not a sign as such as a 'mime' of what is viewed visually by the deaf person. E.G. an Indian from the subcontinent would be signed by indicating the area between the eyes, where the Indians usually put a red spot there. Black people is the brush across the face to indicate that it is not a white person, it's not a put-down. The deaf need to identify people, it may be simplistic to indicate a feature of minority and other areas, but, it works! Perceptions nobody can be accountable for especially not those of the permanently annoyed and politically correct time-wasters offended by everything. We can watch media/films and see Gay people portrayed as effeminate, with errant wrist action, and camp, it would be unsurprising the deaf would make the sign fit that image, it would not mean they are unaccepting or haters!
The UK dictionary e.g. on sign language was viewed at the time, a very dubious 'con' job and many deaf accused the creators of inventing signs to fill room and to make BSL appear more of a 'language' than it actually was. There was no sign FOR bilingualism at that point, even 'language' term itself wasn't a universally known sign, nor a few 1,000 other terms and words. When challenged the dictionary creators made a point of stating 'one sign can mean many things' it was ALL about context, but dictionary professionals did not buy it, and deaf people were confused.
Context is the response to the politically correct critics. The plethora of obscure definitions by Mr Ladd, where adherents to his mantra is an example, where the deaf are still desperately seeking a 'Deaf' version of the rosetta stone to make sense of it, as was the recent news item of an engineer deaf who had no signs for the work he was doing and had to create his own. There is MORE than one dictionary you need e.g. medical, scientific, educational, just some vital examples. The BSL dictionary is nowhere near covering any of those areas. As such the deaf have no signed 'in' to higher education, access, inclusion, or advancement.
Prior to the 1950s in the UK few people knew what BSL was or even if it existed, other than 'sign language used in Britain', as most deaf people who were taught sign language relied more on ABC fingerspelling than 'conceptual' signing which was a later thing. Very early recorded signing of UK deaf people clarified fingerspelling as 'British sign language' it was virtually the only sign medium in areas like Cornwall e.g. The rest assumed some sort of descriptive mime back up. Many older deaf complaining they did not know where the 'BSL' signs came from or even what the new ones represented.
Since then hearing have moved in and created fee-paying courses, exams, and classwork to put BSL on a firmer 'language' footing, the deaf are having very little input on that because they concentrate on the cultural element not the language needs of deaf social-cultural trumping access to the wider world. The original BSL dictionary is now pretty much obsolete as Signed English is taking over. A more logical approach to enhance access and inclusion for deaf people. There isn't much support despite claims to the contrary, to make BSL incompatible with the host language of the UK to prove a cultural point.