Aug
26
2001

Hand and Mouth

Categories: Asian Americanism, Kids

I smiled. I couldn’t help it. It was just one of those memorable scenes that you want to store away in your mind for a rainy day.

My friend’s cousin, a girl only in elementary school, was the centerpiece.

While her father spoke to her in sign language, she translated his poetic hand signals into English for the rest of us. While her aunt spoke to her in Taiwanese, she translated her prosaic dialect into sign language for her father.

Only in elementary school. So young and yet already so fluent in three distinctly different languages.

Damn, that’s cool.

I marveled at the hand gestures, amazed at this silent communication. It’s really a beautiful thing to see up close.

Like a graceful dance, the fingers and hands twist and curl in a rhythmic manner. The complex choreography is just as impressive, if not more so, than a grand waltz.

A friend once told me that she held great admiration for artists who can create things that she cannot. Language, to me, is an art form I’ve yet to master. (Master? Hell, I’d settle for being able to order some food and ask where the bathroom is.)

I’m not the best at picking up new languages. Sometimes I think I’m missing that part of the brain that allows one to learn and retain new languages.

(Curses in other languages, however, are in a category of their own. I proudly know how to cuss someone out in six or seven different languages, thank you very much.)

Speaking English and Taiwanese would have been enough to astonish me, but sign language too? Damn, that’s cool.

. . .

How many languages do you speak?

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