HOW TO EXPLAIN THAT HYPERVERBAL IS ALSO AUTISTIC AND NOT ALL AUTISTIC IS NONVERBAL. AND HYPERVERBAL GOES TO ASL AS WELL. I HAVE LOTS TO SAY AND SIGN. LISTEN TO ME, PEOPLE! MY BRAIN DOES NOT MAKE ME LESS CREDIBLE.
So Guillermo’s trailer for “the shape of water” came out and i havent seen one post yet talk about how the main character is actually mute and communicates using ASL!!!! I mean thats huge. I mean not only is this such a neat spin on the little mermaid being mute but shes a disabled MAIN CHARACTER and the movie isnt some drama about her disability rather its a fantasy love story and her disability is merely a part of her character. This-this is just huge. Like they could have had her using pen and paper the whole film or something but no. She uses ASL. Im just, for a lack of a better phrase, speechless
I’m no expert—I’m hearing and my understanding of American Sign Language is extremely limited—so please feel free to correct/add on to this! But I was just really struck by (and loved!) Elisa’s “F U” to Strickland in the above scene, which was featured at the end of the newly-released Red Band trailer for The Shape of Water.
Here, Elisa is literally signing “F” and “U” from the ASL alphabet, but what makes this so striking is that, by doing so, she’s not exactly speaking ASL—she’s fingerspelling English.
ASL is a completely separate language from spoken/written English, and fingerspelling is pretty much only used if there are no ASL equivalents for what needs to be conveyed, such as in the case of names. (In fact, when I was learning ASL, my teacher waited a while before teaching us the alphabet because she didn’t want us fingerspelling English instead of actually trying to sign!)
So the fact that Elisa uses fingerspelling here, when there are other ways in ASL to convey the idea of “fuck you,” says a lot. It says even more when you consider how she’s fingerspelling, since her fingerspelling here is not how a deaf person/someone who speaks ASL would typically fingerspell.
‘Cause fingerspelling? It’s fast. Extremely fast. Each letter flows smoothly into the next. When you fingerspell, it should be an incredibly fluid motion.
But here? That’s 110% not the case. Elisa is slow and measured. She holds out each letter nice and long. It’s the kinda way you’d fingerspell to someone learning ASL—and actually, my teacher would say to not even do that. If you slow down so much for them all the time, they’ll never be able to keep up with real ASL!
So, this scene? This scene with Elisa fingerspelling something that doesn’t need to be fingerspelled, in an incredible, deliberate, slower-than-college-WiFi pace? Well, Elisa is doing more than just dissing Strickland—she’s absolutely taunting him. She’s saying, “I’m speaking your language. I dare you to understand me.”
And she knows that he won’t. She’s speaking crystal clearly, no stuttering, no hesitance, no nothing, and Strickland can’t even be damned to attempt the basicASL alphabet because he would never, ever try to understand anything different from him.
And Elisa knows this and completely, totally rubs it in his bigoted face.
I’m going to cry i just keep remembering that Baby Driver, one of the most impressive, viewed, and raved movies of all summer, used American Sign Language. It wasn’t used as some taboo thing that only “disabled people” used. It was shown as something normal to use, instead of something that was weird or scary. Deafness and sign language was normalized in this film! They definitely could’ve flipped it around and cast sign language in a negative light. I’m relieved they didn’t. I wasn’t expecting any signing at all in this movie, but when I saw it I wanted to weep from happiness. And bonus, CJ Jones, who played Joe, is actually Deaf!
can I get me some good old fashioned fluff for TFP Soundwave and a sweet non-verbal human please? The human probably tries teaching Soundwave ASL so they can communicate, and in return he plays alien music for them, that sort of thing? You're both doing such a great job running this blog, hope you're having a good day and thanks in advance!
Hi Tatertit here because I fricken love ASL. I only took the starting/beginning class for it so excuse me for my grammatical errors, but I’m steadily and continuing to learn ASL.
Here’s my little drabble for your prompt! I didn’t use a non-verbal human, I made it so the human lost their voice after they got sick. Fun times ensues!!
Bonus: soundwave decodes the last bit on his own time.