Simultaneous Communication | Deaf Awareness Month

Simultaneous Communication | Deaf Awareness Month

Let’s begin. Hello! So, the video today will be the second one in my Deaf Awareness Month series of videos. If you haven’t seen the first one, go watch that, click right there, and I will also link it in the description below. Today’s video will be talking about sim-com. For those who don’t know what sim-com means, it’s an abbreviation: sim-com, meaning simultaneous communication. I will talk about that and why it’s a very, very, VERY bad idea to do it. Basically what simultaneous communication, sim-com, is… This is when people will sign and verbally speak at the same time. Now, some of you will be “I don’t see the problem with that, I don’t get it. It seems to be fine, and would work.” Some of you will be “Oh gosh, yes! Yes, do not do this!” Generally, it’s not encouraged to do sim-com – in general. Some people will still do it. This all depends on the situation, and why you’re doing sim-com. Generally, sim-com is kind of acceptable if it’s one-on-one, or in a small group. Kind of acceptable. But in large groups, a presentation setting, class – teaching class or presenting for class – nope. Not acceptable. I will explain a few reasons why it’s not acceptable and why it’s just really a terrible idea. First, I want to give you a little bit of an example of how…so you can clearly and quickly understand a little bit. Basically. Would you expect someone verbally speak Chinese and also verbally speak English…at the same time? No. You wouldn’t. Because it’s physically impossible. You can’t. Now, that example is pretty clear, obvious you can’t do sim-com, it’s impossible. But some of you will be asking, “but what’s the problem, signing and voicing, they’re different. Hands and voice… In the example, both are using voice, so no. Sign and hands, and voice are different. That’s fine, it can be done.” Modality is how something is expressed. Examples are writing, speaking, signing, for some of you – cued speech… Some of you use Signed Exact English (SEE). Those are examples of different modalities. Modality does not necessarily equal a language in of itself. The reason why I’m saying that… English, the language English, has two modalities. Verbal and written. Two different modalities in the same language. That’s fine. ASL, the modality is sign, no writing – wellllll. There is a written system but that’s for a whole nother video. No verbal speaking, spoken words. The modality is hands. Now, the big reason why many people feel like it’s fine to speak English and sign because they’re a different modality. That’s fine, sure. But. The important thing to understand here is that ASL is its own, separate, recognized language. It has its own grammar, syntax, linguistics. All of the things that make it its own language. Yes, it’s right that ASL is another modality, but it’s also another language. You can’t express two languages simultaneously. Some of you will say “Yeah, but I see some people sign and voice, and they seem fine. Voicing well, or signing well. The voice’s good and matches up well.” Ehhh kind of. There are some people who have the skill to be able to sign almost perfect ASL and voice everything. That’s a really rare, very rare skill. Sometimes you will see some people doing a “pidgin.” It means a mixture of two languages. If it’s just a way to express yourself, get your point across, that’s fine, sure. Go ahead. That’s fine. But when you’re in a professional setting, presenting to an audience, or group work, or whatever. Pidgin generally isn’t accepted. For a reason. Pidgin is not sim-com. Sim-com is trying to use two languages at the exact same time. Which can’t be done. I’m going to explain another word related to linguistics. The word is code-switching. That word, code-switching, happens when you move from one language to another. Or even within the same language. For example, English. If you’re chatting with your close friends, using that way of speaking, then… You switch to talking with your boss, you wouldn’t use the same terms, you wouldn’t use the same way of speaking. That’s code-switching. It also happens when you switch from German to Russian, that’s code-switching. Changing from one way of expressing to another way of expressing. It’s a perfectly normal thing for people to do. It’s like a switch, hence the name code-switching. It’s using this language, then stopping and switching to that language. That means… You can’t do two paralleling, you can’t. It’s more like this, that, this, that. Our minds cannot focus on two things at the same time. Now before any of you say, “But what about multitasking!” Shh! That’s not a real thing. Science. Multitasking has been proven to not be real. It might feel like you can do multiple things at once. But reallllllly, no. Your brain is just switching its focus from one task to another. Which is what you do when you switch from one language to another. It has been shown that multitasking is really not effective. It ruins your ability to really be able to do something effectively. This is why sim-com doesn’t work. With sim-com, your brain is actually switching very rapidly from one language to another, and forth and back. That’s not really an effective way to express. If you’re just trying to get your point across to that person, fine, sure. But when you’re doing a presentation or whatever, ehhh. Don’t. Just don’t. I’m going to talk a bit about my experience with sim-com. I have many, many experiences with sim-com. I even do it myself sometimes. But generally, no. I don’t. Partly because it really helps people learn sign better, even understand sign better, if I just turn off my voice. Because then they’re not taking in two languages at the same time, trying to process both languages. Typically, with sim-com, it will cause a “loss” of one language. Typically, that person’s second language. Example. You grow up with spoken English only, no sign, growing up with English. You go into school, maybe college, decide you want to learn sign, fine sure! Learn it, then sign and try to sim-com… Usually, your brain will focus on your first language, English, and when that happens, your brain will start to forget to sign too. ASL and English have very different grammar structures, it’s nothing alike. Nothing! ASL’s grammar structure is a little bit more like Spanish or Italian. So, that’s partly why you can’t sim-com. Generally, sim-com is not a good idea. That’s all I have for you today. I hope you learned something from this video. I hope this helps you think again if you decide you want to do sim-com, and really think about why you’re doing sim-com. Now, I want to be very clear. I’m talking more about a professional environment. Like class, presenting, that kind of thing. I’m not talking about if you’re with your friends, or whatever. That’s up to you and your friends, that’s fine. But for teaching, work, that. Hope you enjoyed, and I’ll see you next time!


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    Gina D. Torres

    I am learning (trying very hard to learn) ASL via videos online. The thought of using sign right now makes me nervous. I can understand simple things like asking someone's name or asking if they have an ID (handy for my job). However, I have a question: If a hearing person uses what little sign they know, would the effort be appreciated or would they be laughed at because they sign poorly?? That might seem like a silly question but it's a real fear of mine and it's keeping me from feeling comfortable with signing.

    I like what you said to Mr Simon in the comments about not putting down people for choosing to express themselves with SEE or PSE. Also, I like your videos because you mouth much of what you sign. It is helpful for me and I have learned from watching your videos, so thank you!

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    Oreo George

    This video was extremely helpful for me. I am currently an ASL major and I am taking a Deaf Culture class this semester in addition to my ASL 3 class. This was a topic recently and you explained it much better than the textbook did. I am a visual learner so maybe that's why reading it wasn't clicking for me. I love your videos!

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    Molly Koski

    I stumbled across this video recently and found the topic quite interesting because I've heard so many conflicting arguments and perspectives on it. This is the first video I actually agree with! Personally I have only been signing for about 8 years but I find it very difficult to sign and speak at the same time like when I'm around my Deaf & hearing friends at the same time (I want to make sure everyone is a part of the discussion). At the end of this video you had mentioned how if you're trying to use sim-com you will revert back to your first language (English), sometimes without conscious knowledge. The funny thing is for me English is my first language, but when I try to sign & speak at the same time I usually forget to speak and I only sign even though ASL Is my second language. I just found that interesting and this video very informational. Thank you for posting! 🙂

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    I really love your educational videos , my family is learning ASL , mainly because our little girl is deaf. But we are having trouble understanding the syntax and grammatical structure, coming from Germany I totally understand that asl and English are two separate languages but I need a video explaining in detail with examples so I can get more proficient and confident. And so we can use proper ASL at home this fill the environment for our girl with both languages. Thank you 😊

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    I am fluently bilingual in two oral languages, Icelandic and English. While I technically learned Icelandic first, I was only 3 when I moved to the States and learned English & I don't even remember learning it so I consider both of them to be my "first language" because they feel equally natural to me. I'm quite good at switching quickly between languages because I have been doing it my whole life, but I still can't do both at once – for example, if I am speaking Icelandic and writing English or vice versa, I am switching between the two, not actually doing both at the same time. But if I do get distracted and attempt to do both at completely the same time, I will start combining words into strange Icelandic-English hybrids and writing English according to the Icelandic spelling system/vice versa, because it isn't possible to do both completely simultaneously. It only makes sense for the same to apply to signed & oral languages instead of oral & written ones.

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    Kimberly Appelcline

    Thank you so much for this video! I've watched a number of different videos about sim-com, and it always made sense to me why it wouldn't work well, but this was the first time I'd seen the problems articulated in linguistic terms. I loved the comparison to the myth of multi-tasking! It makes so much sense! I haven't watched very many of your videos yet (as I only discovered your channel a few days ago), but I would be very interested to learn more about the syntax and structure of ASL. You mention it very briefly near the end of this video, but it just left me wanting more. I'm just starting to learn ASL, so all I'm learning thus far is vocabulary words—basically just translating a simple concept from English to ASL—nothing about the language as a whole and how it works. I watched one video, for example, where a Deaf man explained that in ASL the verb forms work differently, so he wouldn't sign, "I am going to the store," that the "ing" in "going" just isn't really how ASL works.

    I also have another question, which maybe doesn't relate to this video but does relate to talking/signing. I struggle sometimes, when telling someone about sign language, to avoid using the words "say," "hear," "listen," and such … words that seem to imply spoken speech. And yet I feel that you are saying things in this video, and I am listening to them, and I am hearing you. I think of these words as terms relating to *communication*, rather than *sound*, but I worry whether those terms might be offensive to the Deaf community. Especially the word "hear." Is it offensive to say that I want to hear what you think about this issue?

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    Thank you for this video! It was very helpful. A little clarification just to make sure I understood correctly. I am currently studying ASL and have been teaching my 2.5 year old the past few months. Since he is hearing I will tell him the English equivalent and show him the sign (saying "bear" while signing "bear"). Is that okay for building up his vocabulary and then when doing sentences only sign? Could I introduce basic sentences by verbalizing context like "if you want some chocolate milk do this" since I'm not verbalizing the English equivalent while signing the request?

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    I hate using sim-com. It's so difficult, and I feel like both languages end up taking some degradation. Particularly when I need to use classifiers or the way I would express the thought is completely different in English than in sign, so I can't really even use PSE to get by. I've only been signing for two years, though, so maybe it gets easier. The only time I use sim-com is when I'm involved in a group discussion with deaf and hearing friends. A lot of my hearing friends often want me to voice while I'm talking to my deaf friend in front of them–I guess because they're used to just being able to drop into conversations or listen to conversations around them, but I don't usually do that. I don't want my communication with my deaf friend to suffer, and I'm also trying to encourage my hearing friends to start learning some sign for themselves–which some of them are! Anyways, interesting video. I just discovered your channel, so I've been watching a lot of random older videos.

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    Nereyda DeSombra

    Thanks for this video! You answered a few questions I had. I'm HOH, and I recently decided to start learning ASL because I'm losing more hearing and because it's just too tiring to try to read lips ALL THE TIME! i tried to sign and speak a few times with my toddler, but it's just too hard, the grammar is soo different, one time I said one word and sign another word giving sort of the same idea, but I agree it's not ideal. And if we add to the mixture that my first language is Spanish you can imagine my confusion! I'm trying to sign more with my daughter but she keeps asking me why I'm speaking with my quiet voice? Anyway, do you have any resources of how to deal with that? Thanks and I loved your video!

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    I see that many people have the same experiences with being bilingual like me! I am the only Spanish-speaking employees at one of my jobs so when I take care of a Spanish-speaking customer, I still have to write the order in English for my coworkers to understand. Thankfully, many things are abbreviated to I just have to translate in my head and write the abbreviation down but when I have to translate a complete set of sentences, it takes me a while to rearrange the grammar, find words in both languages that I've forgotten in the back of my mind, and find ways to describe something that doesn't have a word in either language, which can be frustrating and time consuming for both me and the listener. Just like you said, in a formal situation, I wouldn't speak "Spanglish" because it makes things more difficult to explain and understand. I'd love to learn ASL or SEE soon to help those who are hard of hearing feel comfortable at my jobs though! Thank you for your videos!

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    Avory Faucette

    This was super interesting to me! I find sim-com super tough, exactly because it is that combination of modalities. That said, I do tend to sign more "English" or PSE. I'm just starting to get more comfortable with that and not feeling like I'm a "Deaf fail" through watching videos of other HH and mainstreamed folks who sign and discuss the different perspectives. I really appreciate that you're inclusive when you discuss modes of expression. I find that it IS helpful for me to have interpretation that's more PSE during, say, a lecture, because the two "match up" better than spoken English + ASL, and I can "fill in" what would normally be blanks from me with lipreading + the hearing that I do have. In that way, it feels to me that signing more English is kind of a third modality of the English language, though that doesn't necessarily mean I like actual sim-com. I was thinking about this the other day, because I know it can be controversial, but my feeling is that English is my first language, and so signing (or receiving sign) in English is the most comfortable for me, because it's a way I can use English but in a way that's accessible to me. That doesn't mean that my respect for the Deaf community and ASL is any less, though! I just don't have the spoons to be super involved in Deaf community and become fluent in ASL, given my other disabilities. I'm starting to feel okay about that.

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    Leeann Beck

    Hey Rogan! I have a question, a couple actually… first, I notice you mouth the words as u sign and am wondering is that what sim com is and do u do it to help teach or is that how u communicate in general?
    Also, I notice you sign like I speak and it’s not grammatically different, are you using “see” to teach us?
    Thanks for all you do! I love it

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    I would much prefer not to sim-com, but whenever I hang out with a certain Deaf friend I have I am usually also with a group of friends who don't study ASL quite as often and when I forget and stop talking while I sign they remind me to sim-com so they can follow what I'm saying. I totally get it but also I feel like my already shaky grasp on ASL gets SO much worse haha. And I can't exactly tell my friends to just study ASL more often because we infrequently hang out with this Deaf friend and I don't know if maybe my group of friends are the type of people that aren't as good at picking up other languages, so I can't pressure them in more than a light-hearted manner. For me, ASL is something that I was interested in before we met our Deaf friend so of course I continue my studies regardless of how often we see him, but for them it's different – they do it mainly for him

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    christianna mancha

    I hate doing sim comm! I'm not speaking fluent English and I know I'm not signing accurate ASL!!!

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    I’m an ASL student and I’ve seen that simcom is usually English grammar with ASL signs. So PSE or kind of SEE. Definitely not ASL. I think it can be acceptable for when you’re trying to teach specific words or encouraging any kind of sign acquisition, but it’s not good for actually learning the language.

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    Jill Hurst-Wahl

    Rogan, thank you for this. I’m learning ASL and find it hard to talk and sign at the same. I find myself in groups where there are some people who are hearing and some who are deaf, which is why I’ve tried to do both…but it really has been impossible. So I’ll stop talking!

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    Emmett Roden

    I’m really trying to work on my ASL fluency, so usually I only speak around my family. When I’m out in public I turn off my voice and only use sign (or write in English). So far it’s really helped me improve.

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    Hi Rogan! I’m still learning ASL. I understand a lot, and I can sign a good enough amount to be able to communicate a little bit with people who are Deaf. I agree with you, that it is confusing when someone signs and talks at the same time. My brain gets confused because I’m trying to understand both modes of communication at the same time.

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