First-ever formal speech in Dutch sign language

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Next week, the Universiteit van Amsterdam will hold its very first formal speech in Dutch sign language, which will be translated into spoken language (no confirmation of which ones) by two interpreters, something that does happen in countries like the United States.

Fluent in sign language but not deaf, Professor Beppie van den Bogaerde sees this event as a gesture towards the deaf community. Usually people give speeches and have it translated into sign language, but this time it will be the other way round. I still don’t get why two interpreters are needed, but my best guess would be either they relay each other or there’s a Dutch and English version.

Van den Bogaerde points out that the deaf have each other’s full attention when they communicate because they have to look at each other, which she feels gives the deaf and hard of hearing a better sense of the here and now. My personal take on this from university is that we can speak about 150 words a minute but can understand 450 (three times as much), which means although we are easily distracted, it explains how interpreters can listen and talk at the same time.

The Netherlands has five sign language dialects because they five different schools decided to do their own thing. Based on French sign language, Dutch sign language is not officially recognised and is different than Flemish sign language, which has an unclear origin.

Enjoy a video of Happy by Pharrell Williams, performed and translated into sign language by the American Deaf Camp.

(Link: www.trouw.nl, Photo of Universiteit van Amsterdam by NiederlandeNet, some rights reserved)

2 Comments »

  1. There will be two interpreters because they will translate simultaniously, which is very hard work. (you have to take in language, translate it and produce language at the same time. Even with training a person cannot do that for very long without making lots of mistakes) So they will take turns.

    Comment by Ilja DeYoung — October 10, 2014 @ 9:06 am

  2. Thanks for your explanation!

    Comment by Orangemaster — October 10, 2014 @ 9:46 am

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