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2024 Reader Question 107

2024 Reader Question 107 published on 17 Comments on 2024 Reader Question 107

Merial’s progress has slowed a lot since living in the Liverpool Avalon, since BSL and ASL have some big differences and just serve to confuse her, but she’s working on it! She is also learning scuba signs. Maybe some nixies in the Liverpool Avalon can tell her more about underwater communication?


Did I miss something? When was it established that one of her parents is deaf?

It’s the question asker who has a deaf parent; they were just stating this as the reason for their curiosity. Merial was just interested in learning sign language because of a cartoon (cf. question 97, ten pages back). If one of her parent was deaf, she’d probably be at a more advanced stage than “huge beginner”, what with growing up with it used at home.

… she’ll tear the webbing between her fingers one of those sign-language-learning-while-still-in-midform days, won’t she?

As I understand it, she only lived in the L.A. for the summer. Michelle mentioned (on the penultimate page of “Illumination”) that Merial was returning to Missouri in time for the fall term at MSU. So, she was already back in America before “Obverse and Reverse” even started, unless there was an unmentioned change of plans.

New reader here. Hope you still take questions.

You seem to know a great deal about different, unrelated folklore. Are you actually human?

Because this web comic seems to be a very convenient way to write down lore of the mythical world without arousing suspicion.

Except you couldn’t fool me!

I’ve always thought there really needed to be some kind of universal sign language. At least for like you know the UN and other conferences of many countries with different languages.

There is one called “International Sign” that developed with proceedings of the UN and other international (and multilingual) organizations, but it qualifies as a pidgin, rather than a full language, and the UN aren’t pressing for its use any more than they’re advocating the use of, say, Esperanto instead of nations’ primary languages.

You seem to be wanting something comparable to the system of sign language that was used by a wide swath of the tribes of Amerinds in North America. /Of course/ it was a pidgin, as is the UN-sponsored system described by JoB.

It’s no surprise that ASL & BSL are dissimilar. Neither is actually English, and “America and Great Britain are two nations divided by a common language”, as Churchill (?) said.

It seems that Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill are three gentlemen set apart by possibly not having created the same proverb. :-P

I’ve heard a different one about English, though I can’t recall the source:

“English likes to jump other languages in a dark abandoned alley and then rifle through their pockets for loose grammar.”

It occurs to me that Merial’s underwater biology curriculum will necessarily include SCUBA, or at least snorkeling (in front of witnesses). That will involve a system of sign language which predictably bears little resemblance to whatever the British water-breathers might teach her.

She’s developing polyglot fingers.

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