Catherine Nardone Language Autobiography

Catherine Nardone


            Its already dark and its freezing cold outside. It was a cold night, which was great for ice skating… but I couldn't go since I was already on my way home

            "Who are you talking to?" My dad asks as I pick up my phone.

            "Nobody," I sign, "I'm on FB."

            "Oh, okay, well, we'll be home soon."

            "K," I signed back to him.

            My phone is in my hand and I'm on my way back home to my mom's house for the weekend. My dad and I are talking, and then I hear it.


            My mom just texted me…

6:32 pm:

mom: hi whatsup qq

me: nothing, you do do?

mom: i home feel sick… jeff here, soon home…. he go ice skate w. fam… then go home. where you? you plans for wkend?

me: oh that nice. i in car soon home 10 mins. tell jeff stay there… can i w. jeff? i text now. is okay?

mom: sure… you need money? ask don. he give will.

me: okay, we there soon. gtg. okay?

mom: okay see you here.

            So, my mom is deaf. And she's never really stepped out of that world. She grew up in the deaf community, went to school in the deaf community, married into the deaf community, and had children who grew up the same. Until, that is, I came along. My father wasn't born deaf. He get German Measles when he was 3, and lost his hearing. So when I was born, I got his genes and was able to hear. I pretty much got the best of both worlds, and it may not be the same for a lot of people. People get raised in one world, and with one language, and they speak it for the rest of their lives, while probably altering it without noticing it. I speak in my moms language, and I speak in my language. I willingly step into my mother's world, without changing anything about myself, just so that she can understand me. I do that so she doesn't have to. I know she won't, and I know she isn't good at understanding English, so I learn more about sign language to have that better relationship with her.

            Just like in "Mother Tounge" by Amy Tan… She steps into her mother's world of "broken english." "It has become our language of intimacy, a different sort of English that relates to family talk, the language I grew up with." I suppose this sums it up nicely… I grew up learning two languages, and it'll stay that way.

6:47 pm:

me: Hey! Jefe… How's it going my favorite cousin in the whole wide world (not…jk)? ahaha. Are you going ice skating? Welp, if yer going, can I come? Pweasee? Let me know dude, kay? Love ya!

Jeff: Hey Catheter! Yes, we are going ice skating, and guess who else is coming!?

Me: No.

Jeff: Yes.


Jeff: Sure it is?

Me: It really is. Okay, you need to wait for me to go get changed and be a nice little cousin for a little while to tell me if my outfit looks good.

Jeff: Ahh! Kids these days! … Okay.

Me: YES! Okay, be there soon. Love ya!

Jeff: Love ya, my little Cath!

            Most of my cousins can hear. We have lots of inside jokes, and I don't speak to them the way that I would speak to my mom. Amy Tan, once again sums it up in an easier way than I can explain. "Recently I was made keenly aware of the different Englishes I do use." This is me. I just recently became aware of all the different ways that I speak to my friends up North. I mean, it wasn't always this way. I used to be really shy, and it wasn't until about 3 years ago, when I started to talk and form really good relationships with the people I now call some of my closest friends. We have all these inside jokes, and we yell, joke, and tease, but all in good nature. I wouldn't have it any other way.

            “Tristan... Oh my god! Shuddup!”

“Ahhh, cue me… I’m stahnding right here, you don’t have to shout!”

            We were all hanging out at Jeff and Liz’s and this was just one of the first fights between Tristan and I. Tristan, Matt, Ryan, Zach, Jeff, Liz, Rachael, and I were all jammed into Jeff and Liz’s tiny living room. Of course, Ryan, Zach, and Tristan are huddled in a corner talking about the iPhone and other Apple products while Matt and Jeff were playing Halo on Xbox. The girls and I never really feel out of place, we’re all family. It’s normal for me to be screaming at the guys with Liz and Rae tossing a few things in as well. But you know what they say, when a guy messes with you it means that they like you. But I never thought that.

            “Go, go, go!”



            “A buhh?!?!”

            "Tristan, stop saying that!" I yelled at Tristan for saying "A buhh," for like the eighth time that night!

            Matt began to sign to me, he said "Whassamatter? You like him too much, don't stress it."

            "Aghh," I screamed… "But I've got a plaaaaaan…" I said in a singsongy voice.

            "Hahaha" he laughed, "Okay… I'm sure it'll work."

            "PFFFT!" Jeff scoffed, " that's debateable!"           

            It was going to be a long night!

            Sure enough that night dragged into next week!

“Do you have enough room?”

“Yeah, aha, I’m good, are you sure you don’t need me to move, because I can..?”

“No, I’m positive you’re good.”

“Okay, well I just have to warn you, I’m a very elbow-y eater…”

“I’ll be okay, thanks though.”

That’s how almost all of Matt and my conversations go… Rachael, Matt and I had to share chairs at Jeff and Liz’s house…

The only reason I was even there, was because Jeff was at my house building a shed for my step-dad and then when he was done, I came home… he was going ice skating with our Philly friends and my our friends from Bangor… I was upset that I hadn’t know about this (Yes I did, I stalk Tristan’s profile.)… So I invited myself, and lo and behold I was able to go. So I zoomed upstairs to get changed into my wintery clothes. Then we left to go to the River Rink and met up with our friends.

“Emmert! Stop!!!!”

“Gosh, I swear when she skates the Emmert comes out in her!”

“I know!”

“Emily… Stop!!! Please!” Rachael and I both screamed…

That evening resulted in me being able to stay over Jeff and Liz’s house for the weekend. While we were there we had some Tennessee sized adventures. We traveled 4 hours to Jersey to drop a plow off to this guy named “Plow Steve…” He was creepy. After that, Rae and I go home to find that she left Ryan 4 messages on his phone that started with “Oh Ry-Ry!” Then we picked up Zach, Ryan’s little brother, then we went to Jeff and Liz’s house to eat, only to see that 3 people had to share a seat…

“Oh crud it all!” Rachael and I said.

Later that night, we watched Matt as he downed a Four Loko, while Tristan and the other young’ns were playing the colander game. That resulted in people screaming and howling over Pappy saying that he cant understand a word I was saying, and Tristan and me making fun of Rachael saying “Pickle.”

Then a party the next day finished off the weekend

Us kids these days!!!!

            We joke and tease but we all mean well. I think that the reason that we speak this way is because I’ve formed such good friendships with them, that I can easily just be sarcastic, and they wouldn’t take it offensively, but if I used that language with my mother, she would get upset, and take it the wrong way.

            All in all, I think that I can say that the best thing about me is that I’m always me even if I change the way I speak when I’m with my friends or my mom… even if my friends know sign language, we still speak in the way that formed our friendship… I mean, just because some of my friends know sign language, it doesn’t mean we wont use it; we will if we want to tell secrets, but that’s all. To me, speaking sign language isn’t a downfall, it’s an enhancement to my personality, and it ties in my mother’s life with mine.