Re: Goings on.

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Obligatory Language Log link.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 7:16 AM
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The sign language interpreter during Mandela's funeral just spouted gibberish.

...and is also a schizophrenic who's prone to hallucinatory episodes, was actually hallucinating angels during the funeral, has a history of violence (including hostage taking) and was once arrested for murder.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 7:41 AM
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Jimmy Kimmel had a sign language interpreter on to interpret what the interpreter said. Now arguably it's not accurate since Kimmel's guy was translating using ASL, but according to him it was roughly a bunch of random words, when they meant anything at all. And it was just a comedy sketch anyway.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 7:47 AM
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I don't think I understand 3. There was an ASL interpreter trying to interpret the gibberish into English?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 7:53 AM
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Or, there was a comedy sketch about an ASL interpreter pretending to interpret the gibberish into English?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 7:54 AM
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4 is correct. It seems reasonable to me because people faking sign language often make the same gestures over and over not knowing how to distinguish actual words, which you can see in the "interpretation":
"I support basic salutations here salutations. Inside joining in this week cigarette inside to prove on and on to support I would please to say from me to you. Talking to you so far."
"Hello, welcome so far. Cigarette join bringing in different to you. A circle. And I would like to pray this offering basically this is fun all of these balls to prove this is good I'm sorry."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:00 AM
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Oh look, a bomb threat. Come on, people used to do that all the time to disrupt finals, right?
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Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:00 AM
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Yeah, I mean, if the original "interpreter" was actually signing, then the ASL guy wouldn't be able to interpret it, (unless they also had expertise in South African Sign Language). Which may have been the joke, if there was a joke.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:01 AM
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So what's the funny part?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:04 AM
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Who said it was funny? It's Kimmel, you're assuming facts not in evidence.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:06 AM
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9: Then the interpreter's parents told him that they had eaten all of his Halloween candy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:11 AM
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7: oh hey, I was pwned. But I found a thread with lots of comments, unlike somebody!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:13 AM
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(the link in 4 would be more useful to me if it were captioned. Or interpreted into ASL.)


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:14 AM
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7: One student already canceled a meeting with me this morning because of it, even though our building is not being evacuated. Which is kind of annoying, since available times to reschedule it are in short supply until January.

The helicopters are also annoying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:19 AM
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6 to 13, I transcribed what the ASL interpreter claimed the Mandela interpreter was saying.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:21 AM
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They were talking about evacuating Zardoz's day care, which is nowhere near anything remotely related, and also the evacuation of which would mean standing outside in 20 degree weather with like fifty babies and toddlers. Come on, people.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:21 AM
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Our daycare said we can come pick up the kids if we want but otherwise they'll proceed as usual.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:22 AM
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Mission accomplished!
"Dean of Freshmen Thomas Dingman says morning exams in affected areas have been cancelled."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:24 AM
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16: Christ, what an asshole overreaction.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:26 AM
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Damn idiot freshman didn't realize that the normal strategy is to take the exam and then call in a lawsuit threat afterwards.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:27 AM
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I always thought the concept of evacuation cribs sounded funny. Apparently they throw a few babies in each crib and roll them down the sidewalk to the designated gathering area.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:28 AM
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20- That's hardly necessary, unless you're a farm animal.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:29 AM
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6 to 13, I transcribed what the ASL interpreter claimed the Mandela interpreter was saying.

Well, sure, but either what the Mandela interpreter was signing was gibberish, in which case he wasn't saying anything, or he was signing South African Sign Language*, in which case how could the ASL interpreter translate it into English? Unless they were also an SASL/ASL interpreter, of course, but I haven't seen any suggestion of that.

I'm going to violate the analogy ban here, but it's pretty exact. If a German interpreter for Obama was accused of making up nonsense, you wouldn't ask a French/English translator to see if he was.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:33 AM
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Forgot the footnote:

* And, FWIW, as shown in the link, actual SASL signers say it was gibberish.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:35 AM
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Since the Mandela guy was just faking signs, it probably doesn't matter whether the ASL guy also knew SASL. I'm guessing the fake guy would occasionally make a sign close enough to ASL that the guy would then say that word which is what made it sound like comedic gibberish in English (haha, he said "Balls!") You could tell in the sketch that he was having trouble translating most of the gestures.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:40 AM
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"it probably doesn't matter whether the ASL guy also knew SASL"
Given that it was already confirmed as not SASL. Obviously if it was real an ASL interpreter who doesn't know SASL would also think it was mostly gibberish. That's how I feel about hearing German.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:42 AM
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I'm only about 2/3 of the way through grading finals but so far the lowest grade I gave out is 55/60. So I guess 22 gets it right.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:48 AM
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Well, one of the points here is that everyone* could tell that it wasn't SASL or any other SL. You may not understand German, but I bet you can tell the difference between German and speaking in tongues. The prosody is wrong, there aren't nearly enough changes in hand configuration, there is almost no facial movement, etc.. Which makes it much more egregiously offensive that he got hired for a such a high-profile job. Obviously no one paid any attention at all to the screening process, and just hired the first guy** who said he knew how to sign.

*all the deaf people and interpreters

**the first guy who's the godson of some government mucky-muck, I'm assuming. I don't see how else this happened.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:49 AM
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"prosody"
Ok, did you drop a made up word in there to test your hypothesis?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:50 AM
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he was having trouble translating most of the gestures

I don't think we actually disagree about anything, but I object to this use of 'translating'. He wasn't translating anything: there wasn't anything to translate. South African dude was making up gestures, and American dude was making up English sentences. No translation (or interpreting, even) was happening.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:51 AM
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... no?


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:52 AM
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I don't understand the confusion here. Faux-transcription of incomprehensible speech is a standard comedy thing, whether it's creating new lip-synched dialogue based on "bad lip reading", or making English subtitles for the Finnish and Dutch"Ducktales" theme songs.


Posted by: cryptoc ned | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:53 AM
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The premise (that an ASL interpreter should be able to interpret the signs, so when he can't, and produces nonsense, it's funny) is false. An ASL interpreter wouldn't be able to interpret SASL, even if the purported SASL interpreter were producing fluent & comprehensible language.

That said, I wouldn't say I'm "confused" about it. I just don't think it's particularly funny. Maybe I'd think it were funnier if I didn't get completely unqualified interpreters assigned to my doctor's appointments and lectures all the time.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:56 AM
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31: it's not his fault. He's a victim of grade inflation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 8:56 AM
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Please- I was a perpetrator of grade inflation. In a real science, so I don't understand all your fancy social "science" words.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:01 AM
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social "science"

OUCH


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:04 AM
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I don't understand the confusion here. Faux-transcription of incomprehensible speech is a standard comedy thing, whether it's creating new lip-synched dialogue based on "bad lip reading", or making English subtitles for the Finnish and Dutch"Ducktales" theme songs.

Not yet having seen the bit (I'm at work), I don't really want to criticise it as comedy, but this sort of comedy is usually premised on the "translated"/"transcribed" speech actually being speech. "It's funny because they couldn't possibly mean to say this, but we made it seem like they did." There's an unnecessary gibberish-to-gibberish (via ASL!) translation going on here.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:11 AM
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Yes to 37.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:19 AM
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I just watched the skit, and it worked better than I expected it to (not that I was expecting much). If the guy was supposed to be signing in ASL, I don't know that it'd be objectionable. But to not even say "this guy we're bringing on doesn't know SASL" is bad. It even strikes me as possibly unethical for the interpreter to have done this.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:51 AM
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As far as I can work out from ethnologue, SASL and ASL are not closely related. (SASL is British SL descended, and ASL is French SL descended. Though wikipedia seemed to say SASL was also French influenced via Irish SL.) Is there a better source than ethnologue for relationships between signed languages?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:53 AM
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It even strikes me as possibly unethical for the interpreter to have done this.

Whoa, don't go crazy with the judgement.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 9:53 AM
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40: Not really, and anecdotally, people I know who have worked in South Africa say that "SASL" is not actually one language. It's more like the situation in China where "Chinese" means several unrelated systems.

The history there is weirder than normal for deaf people, because apparently during apartheid all the white deaf kids got put in fancy oral schools and didn't end up with any language skills, while the black deaf kids often had deaf teachers and much better language access. That also resulted in a number of local languages/dialects with influences from whichever missionaries showed up to run things, so that it wouldn't surprise me at all if some versions of SASL were based on BSL and others were much closer to ASL/ISL/LSF.

I don't think there's been enough actual research for anyone to have a crystal-clear idea of what the current language situation is. But whatever it is, Thamsanqa Jantjie wasn't doing it.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:02 AM
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I read in one related story that SASL has 12 dialects.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:15 AM
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40: Wikipedia's also weak on the historical linguistics, beyond saying that SASL is in the BANZSL family. Intriguingly, I learned that there was a distinct (Canadian) Maritimes Sign Language that is now sadly moribund, but has had dialectal influence on the ASL signed there now. Neat, and I guess no surprise; isolated fishing villages are good places for quick dialect shift.

Also, Portuguese Sign Language is derived from Swedish Sign Language, which is derived from British Sign Language. Not a chain of relations I would have expected.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:19 AM
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Deaf people in South Africa have 12 mutually unintelligible words for snow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:20 AM
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Chinese languages aren't actually unrelated are they? My understanding was that they were related at roughly the same level as Romance languages. Or did I misunderstand?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:20 AM
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Oh I don't really know. "Mutually unintelligible" is what I meant by "unrelated".


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:23 AM
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44.last: Fascinating, I would've expected Portuguese sign language to come from something Catholic.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:23 AM
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46: You're correct; they're closely related although the politics of it are complex. The state prefers to call them "dialects" but that isn't quite right as they're often mutually unintelligible. The compromise terms I've seen linguistics use are "varieties" or "topolects." There are also a large number of non-Sinitic languages spoken by minorities China, such as Mongolian, Uyghur (Turkic), Tibetian (distantly related to Chinese), and many smaller Austro-Asiatic ones.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:25 AM
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46: I thought E. Messily was saying it's like Arabic, in that someone could pick up a Chinese newspaper and read it in her native language but not share a mutually intelligible spoken language with the person reading it next to her on the bus. So Deaf South Africans might speak different languages but would sign SASL to express their spoken languages, which I am probably not expressing at all clearly myself.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:25 AM
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Austro-Asiatic

Was I confused for the brief moment until I figured out this was likely not that same Austro- as in Austro-Hungarian Empire? Yes I was.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:28 AM
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It's possible that SASLs are way way less related than Arabic dialects/languages or Chinese dialects/languages. That is, it might not make any sense whatsoever to refer to SASL as a linguistic entity at all.

At any rate, writing is irrelevant since SASL is not written.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:28 AM
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The relatedness matters somewhat, as say bringing in a Danish interpreter to interpret fake Swedish is not the most unreasonable thing ever. Yes Danish and Swedish are different languages, but the level of intelligibility is such that a Danish speaker ought to be able to tell the difference between actual Swedish and the Swedish chef.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:31 AM
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Err, should have said Austroasiatic. Austro- from Germanic "Ost" means east and from Latin means south. And that's why I think the Habsburgs prefer shrimp on the barbie.

Is there any standard or recommended text on the historical linguistics of sign language? At least the settled bits? I'm embarrassingly ignorant of this.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:32 AM
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sign SASL to express their spoken languages

???


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:33 AM
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That is, it might not make any sense whatsoever to refer to SASL as a linguistic entity at all.

What? I'm not sure I get you. Sign languages are languages like any other.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:34 AM
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Yes but the term "SASL" doesn't identify any one particular language, it refers to a bunch of mutually unintelligible/possibly unrelated languages.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:35 AM
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re: 57

Ah, OK. I missed your 42.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:37 AM
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If "SASL" is used to refer to 12 unrelated languages, then it's not a meaningful linguistic entity, even if all 12 of the languages themselves are.

(Similarly Canadian isn't a meaningful linguistic entity: English and French are.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:38 AM
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Got pwned while changing my banned analogy from Paraguayan to Canadian.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:39 AM
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Wikipedia says SASL (the BSL-derived language I mentioned above) is the language officially recognized by the Pan South African Language Board (which was form by an act of government), but SASL is not an official language of South Africa. It's the sign language that they're trying to standardize around and have made official. So I guess SASL is a meaningful and distinct term while not encompassing the full usage of SL in SA.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:44 AM
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You should have used Canadian Sign Language. Did you know Quebec has its own? LSQ. And everyone else uses ASL. Poor Canada.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:45 AM
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I was just trying to sort out if there are any Dutch sign language derived SASLs. Turns out Dutch sign language and Flemish sign language are unrelated, but Flemish sign language and Belgian French sign language are very closely related. I guess that makes sense, since religious boundaries often matter a lot in terms of who is running the schools, but it still surprised me.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 10:45 AM
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Jimmy Kimmel had a sign language interpreter on to interpret what the interpreter said. Now arguably it's not accurate since Kimmel's guy was translating using ASL, but according to him it was roughly a bunch of random words, when they meant anything at all

Pareidolia strikes again - I think I see a pattern!


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:02 AM
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the first guy who's the godson of some government mucky-muck, I'm assuming. I don't see how else this happened.

Or, they can't or don't hire qualified people because of underfunding and/or embezzlement somewhere in the process. (Implied here.)


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:04 AM
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All sorts of weird things in SA got mapped onto apartheid - not only did rugby union get to be the Afrikaner state secular religion, while the Brits played cricket, but black peope played rugby league. And then in the 1990s, when it came time to settle it all up, you had two rugby league associations, one white (and Afrikaans), one mostly black and otherwise British, fighting. (That said, everywhere League goes, goes schism, so...)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:05 AM
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Is the stupid phony bomb threat response still goings on? Yes it be.

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Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:06 AM
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That said, everywhere League goes, goes schism, so... rugby caused apartheid?

Well I'll be.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:08 AM
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18, 67, et al.: Double score!

We understand most students are expressing eagerness to take the exams for which they have prepared. However, if for any reason a student does not feel able to take an exam - including anxiety, loss of study time, lack of access to material and belongings left in one of the affected buildings, or travel schedule -- he or she should be in touch immediately with his or her resident dean. Any such student will have the option of being graded on their coursework to date, excluding the exam. Those students will have the option of requesting to be graded Pass/Fail for the course without incurring any penalty in their progress toward degree.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:39 AM
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Although maybe that's a hoax, the subject line was "Emergencvy Notification"


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:40 AM
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Also, the f#%\>|€~'n yard is still padlocked shut. Now you're getting between me and my pho, hoaxing motherfucker.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 11:51 AM
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I thought they'll let you in with a Harvard ID. You do have an ID, don't you, Mr. Tweety? If that is your real name...


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:05 PM
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They only have (had?) one gate open, makin it useless for walking through.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:11 PM
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You do have an ID, don't you, Mr. Tweety?

His voice is his passport.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:26 PM
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69 is kind of amazing, especially on the heels of the fake Harvard rubric.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:37 PM
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Also, I thought you guys held your exams in January, after break.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:38 PM
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76: they changed that a few years ago.

I'm thinking of trying to spread a rumor that you can void any exams you've already taken and instead have them retaken for you by the Homeland Security K-9 unit. Because, you know, what the hell else is a Homeland Security K-9 unit doing on campus?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:40 PM
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I'd suggest starting a rumor that people in affected classes will all be awarded a B so that no one has an unfair advantage, but I wouldn't want to be responsible for the subsequent suicides.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:43 PM
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The law enforcement seems to be slowly leaving, in a forlon is-the-party-really-over? sort of way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:45 PM
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Did they also change the grading scheme recently? When I was there, they didn't have A+'s.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 12:53 PM
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The video in the OP makes me think of the silly dance from Funny Face.

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Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-16-13 1:02 PM
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