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Barb D
09-30-2008, 06:41 AM
One of my characters will become suddenly mute. Her hearing will not be affected. She will be non-literate, so will not be able to communicate by writing.

Since the muteness will be sudden, she will not have had time to learn sign language.

Any other ideas about how she could communicate? I need her to be able to tell people somehow what happened to her.

I'm open for any suggestions!

C.bronco
09-30-2008, 06:44 AM
Grabbing her spouse by the ears and throttling vigorously will be indicative of marital problems.



I hope that is helpful.

Otherwise, pointing to her mouth will mean "give me food."

FinbarReilly
09-30-2008, 08:55 AM
Obviously, learning ASL will be a priority. Also, there is the basic and made fun of concept of using a notebook. Of course, you could substitute texting...and either could apply without necessarily being literate if she can draw at all.

[The reason the notepad is a joke, BTW, is that a lot of RPG's feature Mute as a weakness fr which you can get points to build up your character; because Mute offers a lot of points, it's taken reasonably frequently. However, mute characters seem to carry a notebook with dimensional abilities; no matter what happens, the notebook is always within reach. If you do use the notebook, it's not a bad way to add some suspense, both in terms of losing the notebook, and that it would obviously carry half a conversation that sholdn't be repeated or is read out of context...]

RG

Chase
09-30-2008, 06:27 PM
Obviously, learning ASL will be a priority. Also, there is the basic and made fun of concept of using a notebook.
. . . . .
The reason the notepad is a joke, BTW, is that a lot of RPG's feature Mute as a weakness. . . . However, mute characters seem to carry a notebook with dimensional abilities; no matter what happens, the notebook is always within reach.

I'm deaf, but I speak. My older sister is both deaf and mute. We both carry notebooks for those moments when communications become necessary for the majority who don't know ASL or at least fingerspelling. For a speech-reader like me, the notebook is for mumblers or those who hide their mouths in some way.

Since I don't carry a purse, I often have my book and pen on a lanyard around my neck. Sis is a city gal, and of late has shown acute embarrassed at my notebook, making fun of me and twisting my arm till I tuck it away in a packet. Ha ha ha, now I know why: silly video games have made mute a "weakness." If that don't beat all.

Anyway, drawing pictures is sometimes a very real use of the notebook, not only with those who don't sign, but those who don't speak English. My most recent encounter was with three Russians with whom I worked. The notebook was a godsend, and I was surprised how people who could not seem to learn English could learn rudiments of ASL so quickly.

Cranky
09-30-2008, 06:50 PM
I'm deaf, but I speak. My older sister is both deaf and mute. We both carry notebooks for those moments when communications become necessary for the majority who don't know ASL or at least fingerspelling. For a speech-reader like me, the notebook is for mumblers or those who hide their mouths in some way.

Since I don't carry a purse, I often have my book and pen on a lanyard around my neck. Sis is a city gal, and of late has shown acute embarrassed at my notebook, making fun of me and twisting my arm till I tuck it away in a packet. Ha ha ha, now I know why: silly video games have made mute a "weakness." If that don't beat all.

Anyway, drawing pictures is sometimes a very real use of the notebook, not only with those who don't sign, but those who don't speak English. My most recent encounter was with three Russians with whom I worked. The notebook was a godsend, and I was surprised how people who could not seem to learn English could learn rudiments of ASL so quickly.

What Chase said. :)

Also, in extremis, why not pointing to relevant pictures in a magazine? My non-verbal autistic son uses a system called PECS, but I don't know if that would work for your purposes.

Here's a link (http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/learning/pecs.htm), though, if you're interested.

kuwisdelu
09-30-2008, 07:34 PM
Oftentimes, I have trouble thinking of the right word in conversation--I'll know exactly what I mean, but I just completely lose the word. I usually end up acting it out, much like charades, or many an episode of I Love Lucy. Unfortunately, I'm usually somewhat distressed at not remembering, so my acting-out of the word isn't always the best, and--though people usually understand eventually--they get the impression that I'm terrible at charades. That really grinds my gears.

angelgirl
09-30-2008, 07:49 PM
I second Chase's idea of drawing pictures. Also, the character could use gestures and pantomine to act out events. Of course, the age of the character will determine how successful she will be and how creative she can be in doing so. Sounds like a fun challenge for you. :)

Chase
09-30-2008, 08:34 PM
Also, the character could use gestures and pantomine to act out events.

Good idea in concept. I really don't mean to rain on a parade of ideas, because controlled gestures can often help understanding, but here's one deafie's experience with lots of gesturing:

After learning my sis and/or I am deaf, so many people start waving their hands wildly that it's actually funny. We try hard not to laugh.

On "universal" signs: The sign most often repeated ad nauseam is thumb's up after thumb's up, which in ASL is the number ten.

Next, many try to make an "O" for "okay," but leave the middle to the little fingers up, which is fingerspelling for the letter "F."

After that, it's anybody's guess. I've seen people accidentally sign some really hilarious things, but mostly it's analogous to someone speaking rapidly in tongues and then getting quite annoyed that you don't understand.

Barb D
10-01-2008, 06:18 AM
Thanks for the ideas, everyone. The story takes place in the 16th century, and the character who loses speech is from that time, but maybe I'll make one of my time-traveling MCs fluent in ASL. Other than that, I think pictures might be the way to go. I've also thought about allowing her to have a sort of telepathic communication with her sister, who could translate for her...but I've sort of decided that would be cheating. Even in a story with lots of fantastical elements.

FinbarReilly
10-01-2008, 06:41 AM
NO TELEPATHY! Sorry; it's a common cliche that the mute person has some way to communicate, alleviating the problem. Telepathy and the notebook that won't disappear are the two most obvious issues; why assign a weakness if you have no desire to use it?

The same goes with a time traveller who can teach ASL; once you have a translator who is there constantly, or can teach that ability to someone else, then why did you bother assigning the weakness in the first place?

Having the character be an artist works; the handicap is still a handicap, and communication is still an issue; even the simplest communication requires a medium, and is up to miscommunication. Better yet, you don't need another character to act as a translator.

For what it's worth...
FR

Danger Jane
10-01-2008, 10:23 AM
One of my narrators is mute, although not deaf, and illiterate, in a time long before ours. The effect of this on her personality largely leads her to withdraw and become much more of a listener than a talker, though.

You'd be surprised how much you can get out of a character simply by nods, head shakes, and shrugs. Obviously it can be hard to have a true conversation like this without bugging the reader with "I nod" "I shake my head" because that's most of what the character can DO.

General body language can also get a lot across, depending on how perceptive another character is and how well they know her. Also, if this is first person in her head, it might be slightly easier to orchestrate conversations, just because the reader will know what she means, and that gives you a little leeway with her communication skills.

I haven't decided yet if this is cheating (it might be this draft :tongue), but I'm pretty sure that since she can still hear, even though she loses her voice my MC will be able to talk a little, if very laboriously. So she doesn't say anything unless she has to, because she can usually get her point across in other ways. (I dunno how to test this one out without surgically removing my vocal chords or something...yea, right.)

Good luck!

ETA: In the first draft, my MC was literate. But like Finbar said, what's the point of assigning such an obstacle if I give her such an easy way out? I wanna make things as hard as possible for her. So she is illiterate.

Linda Adams
10-01-2008, 02:24 PM
Watch the episode "Hush" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The characters wake up one morning and can't talk, and nearly the entire episode is done silent.

FinbarReilly
10-02-2008, 03:57 AM
For yet another "wrong way": Lanny (Lizzy McGuire). Never says a word, but is always understood.

A great way: Felipe (Adventures of Zorro TV Series): Although he was mute, he was nonetheless able to get his point across through pantomine and use of props, as well as his facial expressions.

FR

comradebunny
10-04-2008, 08:39 PM
I think it's about 70% of our communication is non verbal anyway. Words are not always needed to get across meaning. In college, we had a Beijing Opera performer come to our school as part of a grant. She taught a group of us Beijing Opera routines. She could not speak a word of English and only one of our group could speak Chinese (and she was absent a lot). We found it didn't matter. We were still able to communicate and learn. Of course, we did learn how to count from 1-10 in Chinese so we could understand the counts for the routine.

ManyAk
10-04-2008, 11:49 PM
Another way of ''speaking'' is doing so throughout bodylanguage. I've read enough on it to know that there's TONS of things to do to show how we feel and what we want to do.

Maybe your character could become an expert of bodylanguage, or something. Just my 2 cents...

Kenny
10-07-2008, 11:34 PM
Next, many try to make an "O" for "okay," but leave the middle to the little fingers up, which is fingerspelling for the letter "F."
As far as I know the description of the above means 'okay' but for divers.