Blog Post # 14: ASL — My ASL Bloopers

ASL: Crashing but Learning

I want to tell you about a few embarrassing American Sign Language (ASL) bloopers I have made in my life.  At least they were embarrassing for me; they proved highly entertaining for the Deaf folks who were watching!

Each case involved a pair of words, the appropriate word and the wrong word. In this post I’ll explain what happened. In next Friday’s post I’ll describe the signs and include a YouTube video that shows the word I mistakenly signed and what the correct word sign should have been, so you can be sure never to make the same mistakes I did.

The first blooper was painfully humiliating.  I was asked to help interpret the church’s Christmas Service and Skit. 

The skit took place in a casual restaurant with a small group of people.  One of the characters was a grouchy lady dressed in business clothes and always talking on her phone.  In the script, one of the restaurant’s staff asked a waitress, “Why is that lady always so grouchy?”  The waitress replied “That lady is so grouchy because she’s always on her cell phone.”  When I got to the words “cell phone” I remember the Deaf folks in the audience eyes got big. The Deacon’s face looked particularly stricken and pained.  I knew I had made some sort of blooper but had no idea what it was. After the service, my partner told me what I had actually signed was “That lady is so grouchy because she’s always on her period.”

Yes, I could have sunk right through the floor.

In another Christmas Service, instead of fingerspelling “hay” I inadvertently used the word for “salad”.  Let’s just say picturing baby Jesus asleep in the salad was not very reverent!

Other bloopers were thankfully not quite as painful. These last three happened in a Deaf Sunday School class.  I loved attending Deaf Sunday School class because it was done silently only using sign language. 

One day I was honored to be asked to lead the class in the song “Wherever He leads, I will follow”.  So I got up to start the song, and when I got to the word “follow”, suddenly the class stopped signing the song with me and started cracking up laughing.  I was signing “Wherever He leads, I will chase Him”.  Better believe I remembered the signs for “lead” and “follow” from then on!

Another day in class, I accidentally signed “sin” wrong. I told the class, “Jesus carried the weight of all the world’s spaghetti on his shoulders.”  Yes, they were chuckling over that one and I was quickly corrected.

Another time in class it was my turn to read the lesson scripture. It was about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. I signed the line “The first horseman comes riding a big white horse…”.  Before I could continue I noticed most of the class were trying very hard to keep a straight face. But one little old white-haired prim and proper lady started to quietly grin, which turned into a little giggle, then she couldn’t help it and broke out loudly laughing, at which point everyone joined in. What I had actually signed was “The first horseman comes riding a big white RABBIT …”.  Of course at that point I started laughing too.

Have a great week! Be sure to come back next Friday for my followup post and video. I’ll show you today’s blooper words, and the correct way to sign them.

Plus a Bonus for next Friday! For those of you who enjoyed my previous blog about when “My 74 Year Old Grandma Fell In Love”, I will include one of the actual poems she wrote about her wedding night. Thanks to my sister Deb for finding it!

LESSON LEARNED:  Embarrassing moments are nature’s way of making sure you’ll never forget a valuable lesson. I’ve done a lot of crashing but learning in my life!

LESSON LEARNED:  Don’t avoid learning words you would never include in polite conversation, if only to be sure you never use them by accident.

LESSON LEARNED:  Remember: When signing, the ears go backwards for rabbit and forwards for horse.

LESSON LEARNED:  Watch your audience!  If their reaction is entirely wrong for what you are saying, you’ve likely really messed up!

Here are the links to my signing and cueing YouTube “Word Of The Day” channels. I post a new word every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Check it out and I would love to know what you think of them!

YouTube ASL Word Of The Day with PSE Sentence Examples: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLOG4fqHRMQ8zL3llMl9YDg/

YouTube Cued Speech Word Of The Day: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxojUy-dP6C2YKp3BWQPg1w/

Also, Check out my Adventure Games in the App Stores:

Please join me for my new blog posts each Friday.  Have fun with your ASL and/or Cued Speech Adventures!

Published by Donna Gateley

Developer of SignCueQuest and CueQuest

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