The word for "liberty" in many signed languages

Kimberley Shaw skifoot at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 6 19:44:18 UTC 2010

Hello everyone:
here is followup to my query seeking the signed equivalent of
"liberty" in Spanish, Russian, South African, and International Sign.
I didn't get all the languages I was seeking, but the performance went
magnificently all the same!
Let me back up here.
My chorus has just returned from performing at a choral festival in
the U.S. called Sister Singers Network. Several of the participating
choruses -- like mine -- routinely have their performances interpreted
into ASL. During the last night of this festival, a huge 200-voice
chorus of festival attendees was to perform a brand-new piece of music
which was written for the occasion by Jenni Brandon, entitled "A
Universal Dream". During the last section of this piece, sopranos
sing, "libertad, liberte, Freiheit, svoboda, inkululeko, liberta,
chofesh, eleftheria" ... all of these words having the same meaning:
"liberty". Whew, that's a lot of countries to research! At at the same
time, altos are asking several times, "what is it the radicals seek?"
before themselves chiming in with "Freiheit, inkululeko" ... etc.
Signwriting to the rescue! It was a delight to find Spanish and German
equivalents on Puddle already, and to then use Signwriting to record
signs from other sources (such as a Russian-signing Deaf acquaintance
and an old Gestuno dictionary.)
One of the other chorus' interpreters (who herself is also
hard-of-hearing like me, ha!) liked my idea of performing this piece
as a team, and was very interested in my Signwritten "road map" of the
piece of music. So, now she wants to know how long it takes to learn
to read/write SW. So, if you encounter Shiner Antiorio among the
Signwriters, you'll know that I sent her!
Best of all, I met the composer of the piece herself, and asked if she
would mind if I weren't able to sign *all* of the languages in the
piece and substituted, say Gestuno for the Italian, etc. We had a very
interesting discussion about performance, translation, and
interpretation, then I went to rehearse and prepare for the
performance. After the performance, she came up to me, and said that
she would now like to add a link to to her own
webpage, for the sake of other signed-language interpreters who would
interpret this piece. Wow!
We had fun at the performance itself. One wonderful thing about it was
that we had an audience of 400 people, most of whom are familiar with
the concept of ASL-interpreted choral concerts ... but many of whom
had never seen two (or more) signers together jointly sign a piece.
Brand-new concept to them, although Deaf people have done so for ages.
It was an honor to get to be the one to introduce them to the concept!
And so, here is a jpeg from that "road map" to show off, with the
equivalents of "liberte", "Freiheit", "svoboda" (yes, it looks just
like the ASL "freedom"! learned from Arkady Belezovsky), "chofesh" (a
rabbi from Florida taught me this Israeli sign), and finally, the
Gestuno. Yes, I ordinarily write vertically, not horizontally, but I
find that sometimes writing horizontally makes it easier to integrate
SW into a musical score. Am still figuring out the best way to do
Hope all the US signwriters had a very happy 4th of July! Mine obviously was.
Kim from Boston

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From:  <6176997406 at>
Date: Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 2:54 PM
To: skifoot at

liberte, freiheit ...

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