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 takes 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 to our non Indian senses 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 may 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

But…

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. 

Rule 210

Advice for graduation season!!

Warm-up!

Prophylaxis ibuprofen!

Ask, “fingerspell the names of ALL 103 engineering students (representing 31 different countries) or only your daughter’s?”

CAVEAT, DON’T MISS THEIR DAUGHTER’S NAME!

Rule 208

Interpreters’ two most common afflictions are:

a) Carpal Tunnel; and,

b) Pickadamnworditis.

Note from Uncle Dale: Swag Wow

Hello Everyone!  WOW.  All y’all got the Swag Godesses working overtime!  It’s turned into this whole Santa’s workshop meets 70’s message t-shirt meets finals week all nighter workgroup vibe kind of thing.

We were going to put out three at a time, like this:

Order here: https://www.lucky-duck-label.com/pages/uncle-dale

And then we would talk about the next post next week…

But then your orders started coming in!  They were getting special request and they are far too good (you know goddesses tend to be) so this happened: 

(This one makes me laugh every time. Sorry.  I’ll need a second)


(Dang, that one too)rule 146And…

Can I get a holy COW!  That one posted TODAY!  You could order it now!  Right here!!! https://www.lucky-duck-label.com/pages/uncle-dale

Thank you one and all!!!  You keep buying they’ll keep working!

Rule 191

Don’t “fact-check” the Client!

Every true story has two parts: the true part and the story part. 

(I DON’T CARE that you were there! It’s not your story!)

Note from Uncle Dale: Happiness

Hello. My name is Uncle Dale and I spend a great deal of time making myself laugh.

It’s… loud, in my head.  It’s loud all the time. It’s loud and sometimes confusing. I have ADHD in Las Vegas buffet size portions. As a result there are many people who find me… well, obnoxious. And they are right, because to them, I am. That used to bother me.  But it doesn’t anymore. Because I’m happy.

My wife finds me amusing. I find her smart and creative and… i’ll just say it, wow! is she hot! I just hope to keep amusing her so she won’t notice that she is way out of my league (and I would appreciate it if you don’t tell her because I have been dreading her figuring that out for 25 years!)

I am happy.  Generally.  No one is happy all the time. But I am getting better and better at being happy most of the time because of two important lessons I am always re-learning.

The first lesson I learned from reading David Foster Wallace:

 Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult  life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not  worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the  compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to  worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you…

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

From “This is Water”

I am happy because I choose to be. I consciously, daily and sometimes minute by minute choose to be.

Interpreting does not make me happy. Being a Professor with Tenure does not make me happy. Being a lawyer doesn’t make me happy. This blog does not make me happy (it does make me laugh, which is why I like it).

I enjoy every one of these things-a lot! But, I place upon none of these roles the responsibility to make me happy, because none of them are me. Not one of them are who I am; they are all what I do.

I do them because I love to do them. I do them because I enjoy doing them. But I’m happy all on my own without any of them.

Let me say that again, none of these things are who I am. These things are all what I do.

If you are thinking that right now I’m going to give you some secret of life and tell you who you are, sorry no. Because, how would I know? I am also not you. You are you. Figuring out the secret to your life is the work you do for yourself.

The second lesson I learned from a mentor of mine who was dying of a brain tumor (I know it sounds like a cliché or a the plot of a John Green novel. Steve, my mentor, would have loved that because he loved when life made you into a cliché).

Steve and I were sitting quietly on a random Tuesday near the end of his life when he told me:

Life is like a roller coaster, but not in the way you think I mean that. At any specific point in your life if you ask yourself, “Am I happy? Am I enjoying myself?” The answer is usually no.  You have work, and kids, and relationships, and a house to keep up and people who are depending on you.

Life, it’s like riding the roller coaster.  If you are standing in line and you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are not on the roller coaster, you are waiting and a lot of life is about waiting.

When you finally get on and the roller coaster starts, if you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are terrified. A lot of life is about being terrified.

When you get off the roller coaster if you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are not on the roller coaster. A lot of life is thinking about experiences once they’re over.

But.  If instead of dwelling on a past you don’t have anymore, if instead you look at the whole experience, the whole thing-beginning to end, and you ask yourself “Am I happy?” The answer is yes! Because you rode the roller coaster.

Now, if I was to ask myself “Am I happy?” No, of course not, I’m dying.  I’m leaving my family, and my career, and my friends, and my home.  But if I step back and look at it all, what do I see?  I have a family I will miss, and a career I loved, and dear friends and a home. Even the bills I have had to pay show that I had opportunities and was surrounded by benefits some people in this world could only dream of.

So, when I get off this ride I want my last thoughts to be “wasn’t it great to ride the roller coaster,” and I can walk away knowing I am happy.

Dr. Steven Timothy

My oldest son was born a few days after Steve died.  His middle name is Timothy.

I teach a course called Professional Issues in Interpreting. It’s a skills class but the skill is how to live as an interpreter.  We cover topics like: resumes, setting up your own business, taxes, negotiation, contracts, invoices,  finding jobs with government agencies, state and federal contracts, pros and cons of referral agency vs. independent vs. consortium, panel discussions on an interpreter’s relationship with the Deaf community… and stress and vicarious trauma and perspective and happiness.

Happiness is important for this class.  As important as any other lesson in interpreting.  Because, as interpreters I think some of us, well, all of us at one time or another, do what we do to prove that we have worth.  We serve others as a way of helping ourselves, maybe even fixing ourselves.  I have said–in a gallows humor way–that interpreters tend to be trying to fix something that is broken, but are always looking in the wrong place for the break.

If you will forgive me a bit of an affront–this may be too egotistical even for me (and that my friends is saying something!) I would like to add to the words of David Foster Wallace:

Uncle Dale’s addition to Mr. Wallace…Worship your skills and abilities as an interpreter, if it becomes what you are, you will always be afraid of failing at the next appointment, you will always fear and resent the interpreter who is “better than you”, always be afraid of getting ‘caught’ and labeled a fraud.

p.s. There is ALWAYS an interpreter who is “better” at this than you.

I have never met an interpreting student or professional that needed to look for their worth anywhere outside of their own skins.  It comes factory installed.

The very best interpreters have stopped trying to attach their happiness to how skilled they are, and they interpret for the love of the work, and the beauty of the language and the thrill of the challenge.  They are passionate, they are driven, they are stressed, they are unsatisfied with the status quo and seeking ever seeking improvement, but only for the sake of being better at what they do; because who they are is… happy.