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Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

ASL line translation help?

Asked by Vincent_Lloyd (2958 points ) November 24th, 2012

Hello everyone, I’m an ASL 2 student at the moment doing a song project for my class on the song Hold on by All that remains. There’s a line in the song that I just can’t seem to translate correctly in Topic, Comment order with proper facial expressions. The lyrics of that line are- “How far we’ve fallen when the road before us leads apart.” Can you all help me out? I have no idea on how to properly translate it.

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6 Answers

dxs's avatar

I’m not an expert and haven’t taken classes, but taught myself with a book and a deaf friend. The sentence itself seems vague to me and possibly too idiomatic, let alone not even a complete sentence therefore the translation will be vague. That being said, I would translate it as “distance fall-past we when path in front of us separates”.
Distance—>fists together and extend one fist outward.
Fall-past—>show legs falling on hand (I had to look this one up. Do you know of any alternates since I feel that this is a different type of “falling”) then fling forehand over shoulder
We—>Make a W on both sides of chest
When—>move index fingers in circles like a clock
Path—>face open palms toward eachother and swerve them left to right as you move them forward
Separate—>for this, you may just want to make your two hands diverge when you finish signing “path”. have one go to the left and one to the right.
Hope this helped. Remember that I’m no expert, but then again, ASL is a generally subjective “language”.

snowberry's avatar

I don’t know ASL, but I do know a bit about how translating is done from one language to another. Instead of translating a confusing verse almost word-for-word, would it be possible to translate it so it just makes sense? I mean, you would have to change some of the idioms and all that, but (in my opinion) if in the end it gets the right meaning across, it’s worth it. I know that sometimes translators have to do this.

I know that the deaf culture isn’t quite the same as a speaking culture. ASL doesn’t have room for every nuance of spoken or written English, so you have to find a way to get around that as a translator.

PeppermintBiscuit's avatar

Hmmm… I’m an absolute amateur at ASL, but I’d do something similar to @dxs. I would sign: road – separate – we – fall – past. (Putting “past” at the end to make the sentence past tense, and doing the sign for separate farther in front of the body than you signed “road”, and exaggerating the sign for “fall” to make your point that it is a long drop.) But if that seems wrong to you, go with your own instincts. I never took any classes.

linguaphile's avatar

I’m a fluent, everyday user of ASL—it’s my primary language. Translating is also a lifelong hobby of mine.

I would look at the semantic content first. This line: How far we’ve fallen… has several layers of possible meanings, so what does it mean to you? Some possible meanings are:
—“how far (deep?) we’ve fallen (in love?)” or
—“how far (emotional distance?) we’ve fallen (apart?)” or
—“how far (directional distance?) we’ve fallen (from our original place?)”
—“how far (depth?) we’ve fallen (broken down)”

As for: when the road before us leads apart—it’s a bit more straightforward but still, you have to decide if it’s:
—“when the road (future) leads (guides) us apart (in different directions)” or
—“when the road (paths) leads (travels) us apart (two different options we could take)” or
—“when the road (paths) leads (forces) us apart (in different directions)”
—“when” could even be translated as “even though”

In ASL, you’d want to sign the correct conceptual sign, not the English word. If you signed “fall” like if someone slipped and fell, in all possible options, it’d be wrong. The line has no relevance to someone literally taking a fall.

Example: There’s a song line by Wire Train: “And Charles Atlas stands upon the beach upon his head and says I will not fall…” To sign the literal sign for “fall” here would be accurate.

When you decide what the underlying semantic/connotative meaning is, that will influence your translating decision. Decide what the whole line means to YOU then go from there.

Vincent_Lloyd's avatar

Thank you everyone for your support on this! @linguaphile So…I’m planning on choosing the first line on the “how far…” part (Deep, and in love) And for the second part choosing again the first line “When the road…” (Future guides in different direction)

So…With those two chosen would I say…

[Fall in love] how much (with Eye brows down to indicate a wh-?)

Future guide CL: Different Directions (???)
Still not very keen on it…:/ ....

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