Note from Uncle Dale: The Mind of Tommy Westphall

Hi everyone! Uncle Dale here… maybe.  I mean maybe I’m here… but maybe not.  That will be clear in a minute.  Maybe not “clear.” Clearer?  We will go with that.  

Much like my Note called “Enjoy the Little Things” this Note is only somewhat related to interpreting.  It mentions the word.  I would say it’s worth your time… but I don’t know your billable hours. 

Anyway.  Just for fun!  In the 1980s there was a critically acclaimed tv show called “St. Elsewhere.” It was a hospital drama; think ER/Gray’s Anatomy. St. Elsewhere is famous for its cutting edge storytelling but also for its final episode where, in the final shot, the camera pans out showing a snow storm and we see that the entire hospital is actual a snow globe being held by Tommy Westphall, a boy with Autism who is the son of one of the doctors. But we also find out Tommy’s father is not a doctor, he is a construction worker, suggesting that the whole show took place in Tommy’s mind. (Yep! Lost and The Sopranos did not invent the “whaaa?” ending).

So, here is the conundrum. If the whole show happened in the mind of a boy with Autism named Tommy Westphall–then if any characters from another show crossed over into St. Elsewhere’s universe they and their show must also have just happened in the mind of Tommy Westphall

This happened, a lot. 
Two doctors who identified themselves from being from St. Elsewhere spoke to Carla on an episode of Cheers. Bang. Cheers happened in Tommy’s mind. 

Thus if characters (not actors, the actual characters they played) from Cheers crossed over to another show then THAT show, by extension, was in the head of Tommy Westphall. Mapping this out people have connected over 400 shows from Andy Griffith to the Wire to Veronica Mars, to X-Files to Red Dwarf as “logically” occurring in the mind of Tommy Westphall. There is the set up.  

Ok?
Ready? 

Years ago I was an extra on show called Promised Land where I “played” an interpreter. I was uncredited, but the call list identified my character as me, “Dale the Interpreter.” Promised Land was a spin off of Touched By an Angel which had a crossover with X-Files which had a crossover with Law and Order which had a crossover with Homicide Life on the Streets which had two characters cross over from St. Elsewhere (after St. Elsewhere was already cancelled) which means… 

I only exist in the mind of Tommy Westphall. 
And by extension because you know me… you only exist in his mind too! 

You’re welcome.  

It’s Tommy Westphall’s World We Just Live In It  

http://www.wnyc.org/story/tommy-westphalls-universe-we-just-live-in-it/

Rule 263

VRS Call Center, Saturday 2:30 AM. Your mother was wrong! Those smutty novels weren’t a waste of time; they developed your Extra Linguistic Knowledge for this call!

Note from Uncle Dale: Prosody

Hello everyone Uncle Dale back again this note is about prosody prosody is the way we make ourselves understood its not the words but the pauses in between the words the speed or the volume or the emphasis we place on some syllables and not on others prosody is the guideposts we place within our communication that take the great big jumble of lexical data we spew out to our friends and neighbors and separates it into digestible chunks of discrete information it is as I said how we make ourselves understood and without it every interaction would become a word puzzle the like of which would cause Will Shortz head to spin and every attempt to communicate would represent a near futile and almost insurmountable struggle prosody can work against us as well prosody is one of the reasons we sometimes cant immediately process accented English the problem for our brains is that the words are familiar but the spoken prosody the dynamic punctuation is not think of an Indian accent the rhythm is off so even if the words are pronounced in a familiar and accessible way we are still thrown by the cadence placing pauses a structure our brain must work to follow this is true of ASL as well the number one issue I see time and again is interpreters don’t have a strong handle on recognizing prosody or discourse markers as Rule 236 states if you cannot recognize a prosody marker when you see one in ASL you are certainly not using them when you interpret in ASL the Rule puts ASL in quotes and that is very much on purpose so what is a prosody marker you my ask or should be asking at this point if you cant define it off the top of your head but you have heard it or you know it was discussed in your itp but you didnt get it then so there is no way you will pull it out now you are not alone it is one of the most misunderstood tools in ASL linguistics why well the first reason that many interpreters struggle with this discussion is that there is some overlap in the terms used to describe prosody the various terms are not fungible but I hear each being used interchangeably on an alarmingly regular basis you will sometimes hear prosody markers called discourse markers and discourse markers called transition markers and all of them are used in a fairly fast and loose manner to identify paralanguage resparation i actually have a workshop on this i think you can access it through zaboosh anyway research by Brenda Nicodemus RID Views July 2008 Vol. 25, Issue 7 has shown 21 prosodic markers and then categorized them under four articulator groups in ASL it is my personal opinion that there are many many more but and maybe someday i will get around to proving it but until then we have 21 identifed markers and these are organized into hands head and neck eyes nose mouth and body if you want an example of every single dang one of them here

Every possible prosody marker

dont look at the signs just look at her head then look at her eyes then look at her mouth then look at her shoulders learning how to see the markers is the firststep in using them now to a greater or lesser extent everybody uses some markers but most interpreters dont really identify them as such as one student who is a coda told me when i pointed them out i didnt know that was a thing i mean i have seen it my whole life and i knew it was a thing but i didnt know it was a thing thing take it from me it is a thing thing the next step is learn how to read the meaning of the markers so you can accurately say them out loud

That is a Note for another time.

Rule 222

For hearing people, the term “Name Sign” is just two familiar words stuck together to create confusion.