Learning TSL Day 4: Vocabulary around Transportation, a Visitor from South Korea, and International Sign Language

I came to class pretty exhausted and not really in the mood to learn. However, I had already missed the last class so I didn’t want to miss another class. Today, we learned vocabulary used when signing about transportation. Here are some things I noticed when learning about transportation:

    • I often compare the signs I’m learning from TSL with what I know from ASL. However, I’m noticing that my knowledge of ASL transportation signs is very limited, probably because all I really ever needed to know while living in San Francisco was how to sign “MUNI” or “bus”. The types of transportation I would realistically take (and thus, use when signing) in Taipei seems much more varied, such as taking the bus, the metro, the high speed rail, or the train.
    • Deaf or disabled people get special discounted rates on public transportation, even on domestic flights within Taiwan only.

After the first hour,  I was already pretty exhausted and was planning to excuse myself for the rest of the class and leave early. However, two visitors showed up during break time. One had traveled from South Korea to visit Taiwan and the other was his guide/host, an instructor at the Taipei School For the Hearing Impaired. He took the visitor around the office and sat in our class to observe. Also, they briefly interacted with us, though communication was difficult because our knowledge of TSL is still extremely limited. Even so, there are a few things that I learned from our interaction with the visitor, some of which are my own observations and some which were mentioned by our TSL instructor:

    • South Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese sign languages are very similar (according to Wikipedia, about 60% lexical similarity). This relationship comes from the historical colonization of Japan over what is now known as South Korea and Taiwan.
    • In the same way that many students go to America for greater higher education opportunities, the guide had left Taiwan for a few years to study at Galludet University located at Washington D.C., the only higher education institution that gears its programs for Deaf students. In the same way that a student who goes to study abroad in America needs to learn some English, the guide also had to learn and knows American Sign Language.
    • There is such a thing as International Sign (IS). I had no idea. But the guide and the visitor from South Korea told us that they partly used IS with each other. Here is a brief description from Wikipedia about IS:

International Sign (IS) is an international auxiliary language sometimes used at international meetings such as the World Federation of the Deaf(WFD) congress, events such as the Deaflympics, and informally when travelling and socialising. It can be seen as a kind of pidgin sign language, which is not as conventionalised or complex as natural sign languages and has a limited lexicon.”

Concluding thought: Signing TSL is difficult because I usually think in English in my head, which (when I try to sign in TSL) I would then have to translate to Chinese and then translate into TSL. I realized this when I wanted to sign “start” in TSL (to talk about when I start teaching) and was stumped because I know it in ASL but I  thought I hadn’t learned it in TSL but actually we had… we learned “開始” already but I’m usually not used to talking about my teaching in Chinese so I think I didn’t make the connection between “start” and “開始”


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