Friday, December 26, 2008

Discussion Topic: Translating ASL

Since ASL is not a written language, how should a conversation in ASL be written? As an exact ASL dialogue or translated into English? I have the same question about when captioning a video from ASL to English and English to ASL. Is there a preferred method?

I'll save my own thoughts on the subject and kindly ask for yours. I'm sure this has been discussed elsewhere, but I would like to open the comments for discussion and opinions.


Dianrez said...

Not being aware of any preferred method, I would think translate ASL to its English equivalent, including all the emotions and emphases into their respective words.

Exact ASL dialogue (glosses) would defeat the purpose of translation; one doesn't do exact translations from French to English as it confuses something in the process.

A Deaf Pundit said...

You would translate it just like how you would do with a foreign language to English and vice versa.

Anonymous said...

Put something up here in ASL that you want translated and see what kind of responses you get!


Anonymous said...


You could post up the ASL dialogues with English translations/meanings in parentheses on the right. It may be a good little lesson for the non-signers (or budding signers). Also, that way, both languages would still be intact and pure.


Store (I) go buy drink want? (I'm going to the store to buy a drink. Want anything/one?)

Sorry train gone! (Sorry you missed it!)

Car engine *bop* {two curl-five handshape together) (me) stuck. Do-do? (my car engine broke down. I can't drive/use it. What do I do?)

Best luck!


Keri said...

Delurking here...I agree with all comments. Translate from ASL to English as you would for any other language (i.e. Spanish to English, etc). English glosses are only used for educational purposes and does not convey any meaning. It's more of a guide so one who knows sign language can sign the exact same sentences in ASL.

Neil said...

I have to agree. The concept of translating into English is to convey meaning and emphasis to the reader.

If you use the actual word order, it becomes mental gymnastics and does nothing to help the reader understand your (or perhaps more accurately, your father's) thoughts.

Just about the only time that I think it's worth leaving it as-is is when it's highly relevant to the topic being discussed.

Barefoot in Blue said...

I think it's best to translate it as you would any other language but I do appreciate they way that you use some of your father's terms; it helps us to relate to his personality. Half of my family's first language is not English, if I were to translate for them, I would not do it verbatim; it's important to make sure people understand what is meant.

Unknown said...

It depends on the audience you wish to serve. If you want the whole world to "get it", then I'd go for translation that is English based. But of course, if I were writing for my deaf peers, I'd go for pure ASL transation.

Hot Dog, dry.