I started to study sign language before I knew there was more than one. I learned the alphabet for British Sign Language when I was about ten. I still remember it, even though I never had a chance to use it. (There wasn’t much call for British Sign Language in Dublin. Besides, I didn’t know any D/deaf people.)
When I lived in America, I took classes in American Sign Language. By then I knew at least one (very small) deaf person. I loved the classes, but failed to make much progress.
Undaunted, I started studying Irish Sign Language when I came back to Ireland. Years later, I can just about say hello, but don’t ask me to interpret what other people are saying. People sign fast in the real world–way faster than in the classroom.
Still, I’m a great lover of sign. It’s a language of beauty and grace; of meaning made visible. I still hope to become fluent, but have years more study ahead of me. Meanwhile, I offer a little Christmas treat. Here is the choir of St. Mary’s School for Deaf Girls (Dublin) performing Fix You by Coldplay.
Happy Christmas everyone!