Thursday, 10 November 2011

Can you lipread me?

**mouthing: Can you lipread me?** 

I am a looooooooong-time and habitual lipreader---it helped me get my eyes checked out early because I was forever squinting. If my hearing-aids get angry and decide to take a hike, never to come back or the batteries die, my eyes and brain have to work much harder. I oral speak other languages apart from English: French,Spanish, Hausa, Idoma, Mandarin, Italian, German (somewhat in descending order of fluency and knowledge).

I regard myself as a native English speaker although on paper, my mother-tongue is not English. Mainly because the language of my speech therapist was English and I grew up with an English family who spoke.....English-the Queen's English no less. I learnt French in school up to secondary school 'O' Levels (and chuffed that I got a distinction because the listening part was such a nightmare); I taught myself Spanish as it is quite similar to French. I know just a bit of Italian and German. The rest of the languages are TONAL languages which means I have to listen extra extra extra and lipread ultra ultra ultra carefully. One word means different things all based on the iNtOnaTIoN! Harder when I speak especially when I get the specific intonation right. I shrug and roll my eyes (and inwardly hiss) when ignorant people exclaim that I am not fluent in the language that my birth parents speak or even Hausa which I had to use to communicate with non-English speaking patients during my undergraduate medical studies.

Last summer, I had fun learning Mandarin which have 5 tones for most letters. And you guessed it, I learnt to lipread in class. I guess the tutors were very forgiving because they realise that I chose to learn Mandarin. I am proud to say that my efforts pay off in Chinatown and Chinese restaurants.

Here is an article that may interest you. A true life story told in a tv series about a deaf lady who worked for the FBI and just by lipreading, she cracked cases.

"....Based on a true story, Sue Thomas:F.B.Eye follows the adventures of Sue Thomas at the FBI in Washington, D.C. She's one hard-headed, soft-hearted woman whose talent for reading lips helps crack crimes and bag the bad guys in places listening devices can't penetrate. With her hearing-ear dog, Levi, Sue's a glutton for jeopardy - and there's (almost) nothing she won't do to bring notorious criminals to justice. This remarkable, edge-of-your-seat drama is an inspiring tribute to the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity and achieve great things."

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