RIKKI POYNTER: Hello, everyone. So, today, I want to talk about mainstream deaf people and language. More specifically, I want to really encourage using the language that you are comfortable with for multiple reasons. So, as you may or may not know because I have experienced people who don't really know this, a lot of deaf people were actually mainstreamed, meaning that they grew up in usually a hearing family who doesn't really know that much about deafness or they might have known a lot about it but they still went the mainstream route.

So, maybe putting them into speech therapy or, you know, stuff like that or the deaf person may have grown up with better hearing than before, then started gradually losing their hearing more and more, which is actually the route my life took. And what happens is sometimes that deaf person may or may not grow up later in life finding deaf culture and the signing deaf community... I'm specifically saying signing deaf community, not just deaf community as a whole with all the deaf people. They may decide, "Hey, I am now finding this deaf culture, this signing deaf community, and I want to be a part of it," or they may continue to go the mainstream route and I know both of those kinds of people.

So, as someone who has been online since forever ago, I'm not that old, a lot of my content tends to be spoken because I am a late signer who still just... who doesn't pick up languages as fast as others do. So, what ends up happening is this. Sometimes, a lot of people say, "Hey, you're deaf so you should be signing." And to be honest, I don't particularly agree with that. My stance personally, and you are welcome to have your own opinion, is that I think people should use the language that they are comfortable with and you could say this about not only deaf people or mainstream deaf people or whatever. It's kind of like when you think of other people who probably grew up with Spanish or German or any other language, like, their parents grew up speaking this language and they came to a different country and now their child speaks the language of the country that they live in, let's put it that way. And people might be thinking, "Well, why aren't you speaking the language that your parents or grandparents spoke?" And I'll get to that a little bit more in a second.

I am very much team 'use the language you are comfortable with' for multiple reasons. Sometimes, when you are trying to say something in a different language or if you're trying to do a presentation or a video or anything that you are trying to make, even just having a conversation, sometimes, if you use a language that you are not 100% comfortable with about a topic that you're just not 100% comfortable with, that can pose a problem. I've had many experiences, others have had experiences where they might have made a mistake or they're just not... it doesn't flow as well and people get upset about that, so then they think, "OK, I'm not going to do anything else in that language publicly," and then they move back to their fluent, their native language. And then what happens, and this even comes from those that might have gotten upset about the fact that they were using the language that they wanted them to use but it wasn't that great, they get upset that they've gone back to their native language and they start speaking instead of signing or whatever.

So, at that point, it's like, well, what do you do? So and so isn't happy that you're using the language that you grew up with and that you know how to use and that you present yourself best in but then, when you use the language that they want you to use, they get upset about it. And when you go back through history, you understand why somebody might feel that way but, at the same time, it's just... it's like a lose/lose situation, almost.

Another thing that I wanted to bring up is that sometimes people don't pick up languages as well or as fast as others, even if they've been around it for a very long time, even if they are in an area where that language is only used. So, for example, I am from Germany, I grew up there for a tiny little bit, but I grew up in that language, it was spoken to me and all of that. I can read it somewhat but, at the end of the day, despite the fact that I've been hearing the German language and reading it and whatever almost every single day for the past 26 years, I'm really not great at it and I know that must be shocking, right, but my brain's just...it doesn't pick up German very well at all. In fact, my brain picks up Mandarin much better and that's a tonal language. You kind of need your hearing for Mandarin but, hey, life works in strange ways. There's also some people that may understand a language better than they can actually use it. So, again, I kind of understood German better than I was actually able to use it. And you know what? It kind of works the same way with your hands.

Some people, their hands and their brain just don't co-ordinate very well. I also think about the fact that, sometimes, if you're making videos, actually having a conversation with people in that language is different than, like, doing it for a video. When you're filming in front of a camera, sometimes your brain is just, like, moving just so quickly that it's difficult to get your hands to co-operate with your brain or line up with your brain and it's more difficult to just...you know.

But, if you're having a conversation with somebody that uses that same language, it's just more casual and you feel a little less nervous about using it. I mean, you know, mistakes happen. When it comes to languages, mistakes happen. I mean, I'm fluent in English, that's my number one language in my life, and I still mess up. I don't realise that I've said a completely different word than what I actually meant until I edit a video and I'm thinking, "Wow." You know what, you're bound to make mistakes in other languages that you use. So, to those of you who had the same upbringing as me, I completely understand when you get a little bit overwhelmed about using a different language or you get nervous about using a different language because it's just like, you're scared to mess up, which in all honesty, it kind of causes you to mess up sometimes.

Use the language that you are most comfortable with. If you use a spoken language and that's what you're comfortable with, when it comes to certain situations, use that language and get a translator. Get an interpreter or whatever. If you are someone who uses sign language, use that. Obviously, there's a much bigger history on the side of signing and oralism and audism but you know. I think, at the end of the day, continue to practise a language but, if you know for a fact that you're gonna be better at this one particular language for a situation, it's just better to do it that way and then be able to translate it and to get somebody else to translate it. That way, it's safe for everyone. But, again, that's just my opinion and you are absolutely welcome to your own. Thank you for watching and I will see you later. Bye.

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