Figurative Language: Uses in the Classroom and in Our Daily Life

Jul 23, 2021 | Interpreter Education

by: Judy Beldon-Feldman CSC, NIC-M - NIR Interpreter Coordinator

Languages are rich with strategies that allow the user to “play” with the words. As interpreters we also need to incorporate those same strategies so that the interpretation has that same richness. In English, some use figurative language to convey ideas. In this blog we will explore those uses.

  • Simile- comparing one object to another to suggest they are alike or similar. “He is as busy as a bee.”
  • Metaphor- like a simile because it compares two things but does not use “like” or “as,” instead it conveys that you ARE something. “The deep ocean is a dark cave.”
  • Hyperbole- is an exaggeration that is so dramatic that no one would believe the statement is true. “What do you have in your purse, the kitchen sink?”
  • Onomatopoeia- a word that imitates the sounds of a thing. “The tiny fairy disappeared with a poof.”
  • Idiom- a phrase that says one thing but means something entirely different. “Everything today is coming up roses.”
  • Alliteration- repetition of a sound at the beginning of two or more neighboring words. “She sells seashells by the sea shore.” Or perhaps not so obvious, “Bed, Bath, and Beyond.”
  • Personification- when human characteristics are given to an animal or an object. “My teddy bear gave me a hug.”

We have heard figurative language often in English, but are we using strategies to incorporate figurative language in our ASL interpretation?

When interpreting from ASL to English, are there situations where it would be appropriate to incorporate some types of figurative language?

Considerations may include:

  • Age of the Deaf person
    • Is it a Deaf child speaking to a teacher?
    • Is it a Deaf teacher speaking to a child?
  • Fluency in ASL
  • Goal of the situation
  • Audience

Take a few minutes and interpret this:

I honestly think I walked 4000 miles to get to Bountiful Bites Bakery this morning! But boy was it worth it! Once that door dinged, I walked into what smelled like heaven, and a million sweet treats leaped out at me begging to be eaten! I bought one of everything, of course, and then dragged myself all the way back home in a state of satiated bliss.
Have a great week!

(888) NIR-9788