Signs of past times

Sign language relies on stereotypes, many of which are no longer socially acceptable. But deaf Britons say it’s discrimination to change signs that use a hooked nose for Jews, a limp wrist for gays and slant eyes for the Chinese. Others say the new sign for gay is offensive too.

Critics labelled the move as silly yesterday, saying that the producers were interfering with “deaf culture.”

Polly Smith, the acting chairperson of the British Council for Disabled People, said that the changes were a form of discrimination.

“The programme makers at Channel 4 are interfering with deaf people’s language, culture and view of society, and that is a form of discrimination,” she said.

. . . The sign for “Indian” is now a mime of the triangular shape of the subcontinent; “Chinese” is the right hand travelling from the signer’s heart across his chest horizontally, then down towards his hip, mimicking the tunic worn in China; and the sign for “gay” is an upright thumb on one hand in the palm of the other, wobbling from side to side.

. . . Other signs that have been accused of being politically incorrect – such as the sign for German, which is a fist held to the forehead with a finger pointing straight up, mimicking the shape of a Prussian spiked helmet – are widely used. The sign for disabled, in which a finger on each hand depicts a limping movement, is used by some deaf people.

This is British Sign Language, but there are similar problems in American Sign Language.

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Comments

  1. D. Cooper says:

    Looks like ‘politicalyy correct’ has reached new heights. Hope they don’t mess with that middle finger salute.

  2. Roy W. Wright says:

    What, I suppose the eyes of Chinese people look exactly like those of Britons?

  3. D Anghelone says:

    …and the sign for “gay” is an upright thumb on one hand in the palm of the other, wobbling from side to side.

    >

    Mr Day believed that the limp-wristed sign for gay was preferable to the new sign.

    Ya think?

  4. While they are at it, they better change the signs indicating male and female…males are at the top half of the face/head because they are “first in the family.”

  5. D. Cooper: You’re so ethnocentric! Middle-finger salute isn’t so big there. The backwards V is much more popular.

    Cheers.

  6. D. Cooper says:

    Thanks ‘e’ … that’s about the nicest thing I’ve been referred to in a while. Mad should be so nice to me.

  7. D. Cooper says:

    Thanks ‘e’ … that’s about the nicest thing I’ve been referred to in a while. Mad should be so nice to me.

  8. The only thing I ever learned in ASL was “[middle finger salute] you and everyone who looks like you”.

    As an American of Jewish descent who has known Frenchmen with far bigger hookeder noses, that particular sign offends me less than the PC meddling.

  9. Male is at the top of the head because it’s indicating a hat brim. Female is down by the chin because it’s indicating where you tie a bonnet.

  10. What I like is the mindless knee-jerkism:

    “The programme makers at Channel 4 are interfering with deaf people’s language, culture and view of society, and that is a form of discrimination,” she said.

    What “form” of discrimination would that be?

    Or is it just that “discrimination” is the universal evil, so the word will be applied even in situations where it has no application?

  11. I love it when these grievance groups get to use their super-soakers of vitriol on each other! Great craic…

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