A Nice Gesture by Jeroen Arendsen

Various personal interests and public info, gesture, signs, language, social robotics, healthcare, innovation, music, publications, etc.

Category: Sign Language Poetry

Signed Children’s Rhymes

I once bought a very nice CD-rom from Effatha-Guyot with 19 signed children’s rhymes. The short songs or poems (not sure what to call them exactly) are by Diny Visch and Arie Terpstra.

Here is an example of the title-rhyme called ‘The Elephant and the Mouse’:


Original title: “Van de Olifant en de Muis… Peuterliedjes in Nederlandse Gebarentaal”

These signed poetic expressions (still struglling) are interesting. They demonstrate several aspects of how one can play with sign language: rhythm, handshape repetition, movement repetition, symmetry (or alternation), etc. And it is a rare example of something that is actually tailored to very small kids (without a biblical background).

Update April 19: I finally found out the videos did not play for anyone but me, so here they are again.

Sutton-Spence Unravels Sign Language Poetry

For those of you who want to know more about sign language poetry:

Cover of Book by Sutton-Spence
Rachel Sutton-Spence wrote a book (2004) with Paddy Ladd and Gillian Rudd on the topic (sourceAmazon).

Can’t be bothered to get the book?

There is also a good analysis (28-page pdf) of sign language poetry available online by the same Sutton-Spence (of Bristol University). She wrote it for the European Cultural Heritage Online project (ECHO) and is dated december 2003 (so just before the book).

A short preview from the online document (from the introduction):

Sign language poetry is the ultimate form of aesthetic signing, in which the form of language used is as important as – or even more important than – the message. Like so much poetry in any language, sign language poetry is a means of expressing ideas unusually succinctly, through means of heightened “art” language. It uses specific language devices to maximise the significance of the poem, just as in the poetry of spoken languages, although the language devices are rather different from the rhymes and alliteration that are familiar to most hearing audiences. The metaphors and images used in sign language poems may also be different from those in spoken language poems. In general, though, the basic idea of maximising the message through specially heightened language is the same in poetry in all languages, whether signed or spoken.

The ECHO site also contains a big collection of online European cultural heritage, in the form on sign language videos. They contain stories, poetry, interviews, lexicons, etc. Just check their ‘data’ link in the sidebar. There is NGT poetry by Wim Emmerik and BSL poetry by two poets.

Sign Language Music Video of Zombie

There is a wonderful sign language video of the song Zombie on YouTube.
I started a collection of other Sign Language Poetic Performances around it.

Seeing these videos strengthen my opinion that the poetic mechanisms available in sign language are quite rich and not all available in written, spoken, or sung language.

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