During this time of sadness and fear, the need to share pertinent information to the masses is extremely important. Everyday, I watch a press conference from the President, the Governor and the Mayor of Los Angeles County to learn the latest surrounding the pandemic. (I will be cutting back on this Coronavirus consumption in the coming days because it’s just too much!). Aside. I have grown quite fascinated with an activity that occurs during the entirety of each press conference. It’s actually been an interest for sometime, but I definitely see how important it is at this time.
I remember when, many years ago, at the Nelson Mandela memorial, massive attention was given to the interpreter who had stood next to many presenters (including President Obama), translating what they were saying. People began calling into news outlets stating the man was not factually interpreting anything. In fact, he continued to make the same hand gestures over and over staring stoically into the audience. Turns out he was a fraud. Which begs a LOT of questions but that isn’t where we are heading today.
Then, one of the fastest tongue’s in the rap arena, Twista, incorporated an ASL Interpreter in his show. So unique! But as it turns out, it wasn’t the first time Galloway Gallego had rapped in sign language. But what was unique about it was the speed with which she had to translate with Twista, all while dancing along to the music.
But most recently, I have fallin’ in love with Rorri Burton! Sis is brown skin, like me; Thick, like me; And so animated, yes… like me LOL. But she is doing so in front of millions, conveying info on the most important topic in this world right now, with all of the expression necessary to convey the seriousness of it all. She is one of a few who I’ve grown to look forward to and find myself drawn to during the press conferences. But she is definitely my favorite.
I had begun to wonder if the theatrics during the sign language interpreting were by design. My friend Marlene, who I had forgotten used to do sign language during worship at a previous church, confirmed that it is! Wikipedia says:
American Sign Language (ASL) is a language that uses signs, facial expressions, and body postures to communicate ideas. ASL is a rich, complex language on par with spoken languages, and employs rules of phonology, syntax, morphology, etc. using manual/visual modes of communication, where spoken languages rely on the oral/aural modes of communication. ASL is used by deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the North American continent, often as their primary language.
So what I thought was just the interpreters being (sometimes) hilariously extra, is actually them doing their job and doing it well. My friend Marlene said “… the facial expressions is essential part of the Language. It’s the grammar.” I totally get that. And I will continue to enjoy the wonderful method of communication. Or, perhaps this will get added to my bucket list…?
Title play comes from ‘Sign O’ The Times’ by the late great Prince!