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Katrina S. Forest
12-28-2012, 02:26 PM
I've got two characters, one deaf and one hearing. My hearing character is very comfortable with ASL and grew up around it, however, it's still not his primary language.

At one point, the two of them get in a conversation where he feels really awkward. I know instinctively, I would want to avoid eye contact in that situation and just focus on the hands. But I also know that when you're signing with someone, you're supposed to watch their face.

So, my question is, what's the most realistic reaction for him in this case? And if it is to avoid eye contact, how would that come across to her? (She's not mad at him, per se, but she is pretty upset at the time, which is part of what's making him feel awkward.)

Thanks in advance for the help! :)

cornflake
12-28-2012, 04:07 PM
I've got two characters, one deaf and one hearing. My hearing character is very comfortable with ASL and grew up around it, however, it's still not his primary language.

At one point, the two of them get in a conversation where he feels really awkward. I know instinctively, I would want to avoid eye contact in that situation and just focus on the hands. But I also know that when you're signing with someone, you're supposed to watch their face.

So, my question is, what's the most realistic reaction for him in this case? And if it is to avoid eye contact, how would that come across to her? (She's not mad at him, per se, but she is pretty upset at the time, which is part of what's making him feel awkward.)

Thanks in advance for the help! :)

Interesting. I'm not *exactly* sure what you mean w/re the awkward/angry thing and reaction.

Part of the problem is that a ton of signs are up at face level and on the face itself, so it's not really possible to avoid looking at someone's face if you're conversing in sign. Looking them directly in the eye is somewhat different I suppose but it's not as if you could just look at someone chest-level and not raise your eyes to his or her face, if you were conversing in sign.

Refusing to look at someone if sign is how you communicate with them is a big deal - turning your back in an argument, say, is a major escalation, not just a 'talk to the hand' type gesture among the hearing.

Someone could keep looking away, look down, etc., and the person signing would likely keep redirecting their attention back up. Not really sure what you mean though so I'm not sure if this is a helpful answer.

Can you clarify what you mean more? Maybe paste part of the scene or translate it into what it'd be if both characters were hearing?

Also, just out of curiosity, how're you dealing with the signed half of the conversations? Putting them in English?

stitchingirl
12-28-2012, 05:26 PM
I don't know ASL, but I am hearing impaired and do need people to look at me when they're talking for directional reasons. I have talked to people who have averted my eyes when the conversation did start hitting on something more uncomfortable. If the two people know each other really well, then the deaf one would be able to pick up on that the other one is uncomfortable and not just being rude by not looking at them.

I would say looking at their hands rather than the face is the equivilance of bowing one's head when talking about a touchy subject.

moth
12-28-2012, 07:08 PM
Terp here, been in this situation with deaf friends.

Specifics would help, but in general there's two dynamics -- where one person is uncomfortable telling something in sign or where one person is uncomfortable with being told something in sign.

I'm assuming your hearing character is uncomfortable with being told something in sign? If that's the case then he'd be staring at a point midway between hands and eyes of the deaf girl. Chin level or so. Peripheral vision picks up all the facial expression/grammar very easily, IME.

Also, what kind of awkward is your hearing character feeling from this? If he's mad/furious, he'll be staring daggers through her chin and his face will be stony. If he's embarrassed/ashamed, he'll be shooting glances at her chin, then away, then at her chin, then away, and likely blinking between each glance.

How far away he glances can be very telling, as can how long between return glances to her chin. Whether she asks him to stop that or not, again, also telling.

Subtext with previous/current respect levels between them is all over this type of interaction too. Plus outside factors like how long they've known each other, what they each want from the relationship, etc.

All of these (and other similar situations) have happened to me IRL with deaf friends, and I've experienced it from both roles (telling and being told). So much depends on other stuff between them, but then again that's also just human nature, true of anybody. :)

Katrina S. Forest
12-29-2012, 10:25 PM
Thanks for the replies so far and apologies for my vagueness. Hopefully this helps clear things up...

My setting is a modern fantasy where my MC and her boyfriend are semi-professional players in a magical sport called diball.

There have been a series of kidnappings among players throughout the novel and the two of them recently discovered that his old game partner failed to show at a scheduled game. He finds this odd, but doesn't think for sure that anything bad happened. My MC, on the other hand, is totally convinced it has and is really scared and worked up about it.

He's got a lot of mixed feelings at the time -- a bit of fear for his old partner that he's trying to suppress, some irritation at my MC for an earlier game that she may or may not have purposefully lost, and a desire to comfort her at the same time.

They haven't been dating for that long, just a couple weeks.

Thank you again for the help!