I had such a great response to my post on “My Fascination with Sign Language,” I thought I’d share some other stories from my Professor Larry Forrestal, who was my teacher when I took ASL in college. Larry was deaf and conducted the entire class in sign language so the students would be immediately immersed in the language.
One of the great things about ASL is that within about four chapters of vocabulary words, you can actually start speaking to each other. The language is amazing. There are a lot of technical things, like grammar, and there’s a perception that ASL is “English.” While the words are in English, the grammar is different and just like any other language, there are proper ways to say things in order to communicate more effectively. Only problem is, I’m terrible at grammar – both in English AND ASL.
But, to get back to the topic of this post, like any other language, there are also dirty words! To a bunch of college-aged kids, learning them became a source of secret pride. I remember one day in class Professor Forrestal was doing something at the front of the room and a bunch of us started openly speaking about the fact that there are dirty words in ASL. (Larry had told us previously there were not). We began to show each other all the words we had learned. (some of them from the Marlee Matlin movie Children of a Lesser God). “BS” was a big one and a few other choice words of content that I just can’t post here. BUT, the embarrassing thing was Larry had slinked up behind us and was watching us do the words and when we realized he was there, we were so embarrassed. But, true to his wonderful character, he just rolled his eyes, brought us all into a circle and proceeded to teach us the proper way to say these words. He signed “if you’re determined to do them, at least do them right!” Really loved this guy. All I’ll say is that one of the words looks like “pizza” with a double pump to the chin and another looks like “shoes.” There’s a few more, but suffice it to say that like in any language there is indeed, slang.
I’m thinking of adding some slang in my next ASL book. My main character is getting older and I’m curious if teens use it. I may have to inquire at Mill Neck Manor if I can come in and speak to the kids again to see if they can help me. They were invaluable when I was writing book #2 in the series. FLYING TO THE LIGHT is about a young deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him for the answer. FLYING TO THE FIRE continues the tale seven years later and my main character’s life is suddenly turned upside down yet again. Book #3 is going to be called FLYING HOME… I already know what the main story is about, but now I have to figure out how to get there.
So I ask folks this: I always thought I’d end the series in a trilogy, but could this tale continue further and should I set it up to keep going? It was not something I thought about until a few weeks ago. Love to hear your thoughts.