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blog Cambodia; blog the planet.

Feb 10, 2006

Cambodian Sign Language

Cambodian Sign Language is just starting to standardize as communication and travel in Cambodia becomes easier. The photos below link to video clips illustrating different signs in the vocabulary. These are from Kampot friends at Epic Arts' drop-in center run in coordination with the Deaf Development Program. They're working to grow it into a visitor friendly art space. I'd come by with some friends after a weekend in Kep to see what plans they had, and if there were any ways to involve the Khmer comics community with future projects. It's all visual communication after all. 'Visitor friendly'? Heck, the people are great. A lot of smiles and enthusiasm. I can't imagine what it must be like to be deaf, I think I'd feel all 'bottled up'. But via signing I get the impression that these folks are bubbling over with enthusiasm to connect. Thanks to Sophara, Katie, Hannah, Linda, the whole Epic and DDP crowd for a warm welcome and lots of exciting ideas. Shout out also to the Cambodia Trust which is a partner in some of these efforts as well, which I'm just starting to figure out.


The motion of tightening a cloth skirt - krama or sampot.


Fingers bending like legs sitting down.


Self-explanatory: long nose. Hee hee!


One hand wiggling as it travels up an arm, like a lizard climbing a wall.

Many signs have developed via local deaf communities, so like spoken language we have regional dialects for signing. And the vocabulary is far from complete. What's cool is that you can sign the Cambodian alphabet, so it actually is possible to spell a word if you're stuck. (Intimidated by written Khmer? Imagine signing it! Far out.) First-time visitors are usually assigned a 'sign name' based on their personal characteristics. That's kind of fun. You can see what I am above. Tags: sign language,

- jinja Link

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