Sign language is no different to other languages: it evolves over time alongside society and culture. Technology, specifically the internet, has not only drastically altered the way we communicate, but also the words we use. So, yes, it is possible to sign “photobomb” and “duckface”, if the need happens to arise.
When we asked if he had ever heard of Lifeprint, he hadn’t. Douglas is an ASL artist, actor and educator and the current coordinator of ASL Slam, a space for Deaf performing artists to share poetry and storytelling in American Sign language.
Mike Sheffield over at Hopes & Fears got in touch with Douglas Ridloff, coordinator of “ASL Slam” and asked for his help translating internet slang into gesticulations. What’s fascinating about the article is that Sheffield videoed Ridloff signing the different words, with the help of one of his students, 12-year-old Tully Stelzer.
You can see some of the terms signed in the embedded clips below (courtesy of H&F):
An interesting tidbit from the story is the way in which Sign Language evolves — it’s possible for people to come up with their own interpretations of new words, so while the gestures may be similar, they’ll have their own personal twist. You’ll notice this watching Douglas and Stelzer in the clips above. This process is explained in more detail over at Hopes & Fears.