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June 22, 2013 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Meet Holly Maniatty, the sign language interpreter who has brought the words of Wu-Tang Clan, Marilyn Manson, Killer Mike, Bruce Springsteen and the Beastie Boys to the deaf.
posted by flapjax at midnite (13 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Seriously just about to post this!

Excellent quote:
“You know—and everyone in the world knows—that's what you want to see,” Killer Mike told me over the phone. “You know when you're watching church on Sunday morning [on television] and that little lady is in the left corner of the screen signing? And you really wish you could just say something to get her to be like, ‘Woah, there is a sign for “motherfucker” ’?”
Video link at Gawker

previously on Metafilter, Lydia Callis, the viral NYC ASL interpreter, because it's interesting to compare the videos of them working!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:33 PM on June 22, 2013

Whoa. Can I just say that the most badass person in that embedded youtube video seems to be her? How does she not feel like a god damn rock star at the end of every performance.

God damn!
posted by hal_c_on at 9:39 PM on June 22, 2013

It never occurred to me before that there might be a kind of spiritual synchrony between rap and ASL, but they go unreasonably well together. Both the swagger of the body movements and the rhythm/flow of the lyrics seem to be a perfect fit for the medium.
posted by dephlogisticated at 11:25 PM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

I saw the Broadway performance "Fela" recently. It's about Fela Kuti. But I got distracted by the ASL interpreters, doing sign-language at the side of the stage. Because the actor playing Kuti talks with a strong accent, sometimes it was easier to understand the ASL interpreters, even though I don't know ASL. They were able to convey the gist with their hands.

The story was about afro-beat, and Fela's story, and at one point they have the whole audience stand up and start moving their hips so they can understand afro-beat. And the interpreters were moving fingers around very quickly to explain what was happening. It was quite amazing.

The performers gave a special shout-out to the interpreters at the end of the performance.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:03 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wait what? She signed ignition? It was the remix right, cuz the original song makes no damn sense at all.

It is like "Imma make a 90 degree turn to cross over your railroad tracks safely babe, Imma switch gears cuz your road is at a 20 degree grade babe, you know I got my CDL to get freaky babe, now Imma drive real slow because it's gravel babe, when I wash you Imma use a chamois to make sure I done leave water spots on your hood babe"

She really must be a pro, I could never sign "to got pretty teeth" without laughing.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:34 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

The clip of her dancing and signing with Bruce Springsteen is the BEST THING EVER.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 7:49 AM on June 23, 2013 [5 favorites]

What, no PSE?

Kidding aside, this is awesome.

AnecdoteFilter: Over the past year, I've been involved in recording some online standardized testing in ASL and PSE, and you can't help but come to the conclusion that sign language is incredible. It's like a linguistic visual shorthand, sometimes communicating whole sentences in one or two gestures. Although some of the science questions had an inordinate amount of spelling long words out.

On the other side, it was nice to not worry about audio for half of it.
posted by Sphinx at 8:45 AM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

Turns out my partner went to high school with her! Has to be the most awesome career path of anyone he went to school with.
posted by little cow make small moo at 9:09 AM on June 23, 2013

I enjoy the things where they put an approximation of how it gets translated into ASL next to the original lyrics as someone is doing the signing. I would like to see that for the Beaste Boys.
posted by bleep at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2013

So, how do hearing impaired audience members get tickets close enough to the stage where watching an interpreter is even possible?

For Springsteen, for example, these are not cheap tickets. I mean, if the interpreter is right next to the stage, and if you're close enough to read the occasional rapid finger spelling in the context of a song, that's a pretty damn good seat for a big concert, period.

Are they set aside by the venue? Is there enough demand to justify that? For every concert?

It's not like an MLB/NFL/NBA game where they don't have to be very good seats (although in practice, they're always pretty good, if only for reasons of disabled access).

Can people cheat the system and pretend to be hearing impaired? Can I hire a hearing impaired person to accompany me to a concert, in the same way people are hiring the disabled to defeat lines at Disneyland?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2013

Maniatty's next big show is Phish in Seattle at the end of July. She's done more than 20 shows for them, but, unlike hip-hop shows, where there are usually two interpreters, she usually works these concerts solo. “With Phish,” she said, “there's so much jamming in songs, there's time to rest.”

Each song is forty minutes of noodling and two minutes of signing. Much less draining.

This is fascinating. I've been seeing interpreters more often at shows, but hadn't thought about the level of research that would be required for an improvisational art as hip hop.
posted by winna at 11:12 AM on June 23, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Mountain Goats show in DC a few weeks ago had two interpreters. The 9:30 Club holds 1200 people, and it was at capacity, but we were on the 2nd floor balcony, so we could see the interpreters really well. They had either a monitor or lyrics sheet they were reading from, and clearly had the full set list from both bands. So not quite as amazing as this lady, but still pretty impressive.
posted by KGMoney at 12:21 PM on June 23, 2013

I don't really know enough to have a good idea of the difficulties involved with this, but even so wow that's impressive and she is really good at performing and not just translating. Like, I am experiencing a childlike amazement on a level that I haven't felt for a good spell. So cool.
posted by invitapriore at 2:25 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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