Had I been lied to this whole time? For the past 17 years I'd been telling people that my dad could not hear and was a native user of American Sign Language(ASL). How embarrassing this could turn out to be! Not only that, but what about all my show-and-tell projects during school? Was my ASL presentation during show-and-tell a total sham? Yep, at just 18 years of age, the fog was cleared from my lenses. It was sad but true, dad does not sign ASL.
On my journey to become a sign language interpreter my mom was my biggest asset. After all she had already 20 years of professional experience. She encouraged me to pursue a career in translating as well, and insisted that I read this book. I never realized that there was designated jargon for every aspect of what was to me, "just telling my dad what i hear." (Side note: If you are studying to be a certified interpreter, Deaf or hearing, this book is a MUST read!) I started to stumble upon languages ancient and obsolete. The Rochester Method, SEE1, SEE2, CASE... before this book sign language was so simple. As I read through the description of Pidgin Signed English(PSE) the revelation came to me; My Dad doesn't use ASL!!
You can imagine the look on my dad's face when I started to rant about his sign language not being conceptually accurate and therefore not classified as true ASL. "You can't say 'MADE-it' because the concept of that sign is 'to create'." "Hello? I went to Deaf school, I am Deaf, I have many Deaf friends, and you, hearing, telling me what is and what isn't ASL?" I wasn't convinced. This skepticism was only reinforced upon moving to a new state and learning that my signs were best left on the other side of the border. Sign language, yes, but not ASL!
...If you met my father now you would surely laugh that I ever doubted the validity of his ASL. In our profession, if you aren't born with humility, someone will give it to you. I gained a sense of humility from this experience that I hope to never lose. Parents beware: When you give your child a book... they might read it.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” - Mark Twain