SASL Newsletter - Summer 2018 Issue Issue 10 - Summer 2018 - Page 4

Please But: Simon Carmel (1981) The Train Crossing: Sharon Solow (1994, 2006) (Produced by Sign Enhancers) Please But: Stefanie Ellis-Gonzalez (2018) (Continue on the next page) Once again, the versions of Please But are similar in plot with some variations (see below for Ellis-Gonzalez's 2018 rendition). An English translation of the joke is below: One time a man, well a person, a Deaf person, was driving along and stopped at some train tracks because the crossing signal gates were down, but there was no train going by. So he waited for a long time for a train to go by, but nothing. The person decided then to get out of the car and walk to the control booth, where there was a man who controlled the railroad gates. He was sitting there talking on the phone. The Deaf man wrote in his very best way (elegantly) “Please b-u-t” and handed the paper to the controller. The controller looked back at the Deaf person quizzically. “Please but? Huh?” He didn’t understand that. (Rutherford, 1993, p. 16) “Courtesy of DawnSignPress, excerpted from the DawnSignPress Facebook page, March 7, 2018” The sign BUT in ASL appears to be similar to the lifting of the railroad gates, which would be expressed through a classifier construction. What the deaf driver tries to say is: “Please, open the gate and let me pass.” This joke makes fun of deaf people’s second language, English (Rutherford, 1993). This is a fine example of self-defeating humor. Regardless of how amusing the Don’t Sign with Your Hands Full and Please But jokes may be, they serve as a source for learning. For example, with the Please But joke, deaf people are reminded of the importance of knowing how to read and write in English. Written English is a far more reliable form of communication (in comparison to speaking or lipreading) for deaf individuals who so frequently experience encounters with non-signers. The fact that the deaf individual in the joke has trouble communicating and is not able to have the controller understand his request is sobering. (Continue on the next page) The Power of ASL 4 Summer 2018 – Issue 10