Jay walking; poetry in ASL?

Tue Aug 3 23:30:42 UTC 1999

        I didn't pull the plug on the group when I went on a July vacation
and as a result found a considerable layer of detritus at the bottom
of my e-mail basket when I returned.  Nothing prompted thoughts worth
sharing, except these two topics:
        As a New Yorker, I jay-walk whenever possible.  Crossing at the
intersection puts you at risk of sudden death; crossing in the
middle of the block gives you some chance of seeing what's coming
before it gets you.  The idea raised by several in the discussion of
this term, that jay-walkers move in a curved or crooked line that can
be likened to a J, baffles me.  Unless I need to enter or leave the
roadway between parked cars -- a situation I avoid, it being nearly
as dangerous as crossing at the crosswalk -- I cross the street in a
straight line, even if an oblique one to the sidewalk.  I go with the
standard explanation of the "jay" in jay-walking, but I would not
define it as indicating a (generalized) ignorant or stupid person but
specifically a bumpkin, a farmer, one who crosses the street as if
vehicles in the city travel no faster than hay-wagons.
        The second point is a question: Some years ago, at a university
ceremony, I was seated where I could watch the drivel from the podium
being translated into ASL.  I wondered at the time whether anyone
wrote poetry in ASL, with the dancing movement of the hands serving
the function of meter and rhyme in oral poetry.  Our president's
oration sure looked a lot better than it sounded.  Nyone familiar
with such poetry?


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