Thursday 23 January 2014

Deaf dance

Yesterday, in the Parisian metro, I noticed two teenage girls “talking” to each other. The quotes are because there was no sound –they were signing.

It quickly occurred to me how wonderfully expressive they were. You have to be –a lot of signing is in the facial expressions. And I who, while maybe sometimes partly guessing the nature of an emotion conveyed, could not understand any of their conversation, found myself taken on by their communication dance.

Signing is a wonderfully observing creative language. It has to be, in order to be able to quickly describe something or someone with a few gestures, hinting at a signature trait. And while I realise that it can be used to express deep, even sad emotions, it always seem to carry an inherent joy of communicating. It is hard to feel entirely sad while dancing.

Don’t get me wrong, deafness is a terrible thing that I, with music my favourite hobby, would much rather avoid. But signing flies high the standard for not letting yourself down, it is a visual statement that communicating is the greatest of joy. Most people in public transport seem to behave like any interaction is an aggression. To see them, in the metro, wholly engaging their minds and bodies in a passionate conversation made me wish that, while I may not want permanent residence there, I could be invited on a visitor visa into their world.

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