Developed by Mark HalleyA person with shoulder-length dread locks wearing a red shirt with white background

Competencies Addressed:  Semantic equivalence

Time Required for Activity: 20 mins


To consider the possible English translations of a number of signs in an ASL text.

In this video, Tar Gillman compares and contrasts the terms ‘leader’ and ‘activist.’ In his VLOG, Tar uses a number of signs that lend themselves to multiple English translations.


You will watch a video in which Tar Gilman discusses the concepts of leadership and activism.

  • Before watching the video, think about what these terms mean to you.
  • How are they similar, and how are the different?
  • What is the difference between being a leader and being an activist?

Watch the Video

Note how Tar compares and contrasts the two concepts. Be sure you understand his argument. Next, consider the list of ten signed phrases below and how they might be translated into English. Try to think of at least three ways to express each concept in English depending upon contextual factors.

Phrases to consider: (You can click on the phrase to see the clip of the video referenced.)

Check Your Work

Below, you will find a number of possible translations of the concepts in the previous list.  (You can click on the phrase to see the clip of the video referenced.)

  • 0:06 – THROW-something
    • I would like to share my opinion about…
    • This is just my two cents.
    • I want to share my thoughts on…
  • 0:56 – ORDER++
    • A person who commands…
    • Someone who gives a lot of orders…
    • Somebody who gives directions to others…
  • 1:07 – INVOLVE
    • Anyone who is involved in a protest.
    • Anyone who participates in a protest.
    • Anyone who becomes part of a protest.
  • 1:44 – GROUP PEOPLE SIT-around ALL-SAME
    • When we all get together and come to a consensus.
    • When people come together to find a solution.
    • When everyone comes to the table to find common ground.
  • 2:28 – PUSH-aside-topic, BUT
    • Now when it comes to…
    • But as far as…
    • Now that brings us to…
  • 2:42 –  not-MATCH
    • That definition doesn’t seem to fit.
    • This concept just doesn’t seem to fit.
    • It seems like that is an inappropriate description.
  • 3:14 – YOU FEEL++
    • When everyone begins to share a similar sentiment.
    • When everyone starts to feel the same way.
    • As people begin to get on the same page.
  • 3:20 – GROUP-move-forward
    • The group makes progress.
    • The movement progresses.
    • Coming together pushes everything forward.
  • 3:24 –  1:CL-above-GROUP:CL MAKE DECISION
    • When someone stands above the rest and makes decisions.
    • When one person has greater power than the collective group and makes decisions.
    • When an individual at the top unilaterally makes all the decisions.
  • 3:37 –  SIT-and-leave++
    • Leaders don’t stick around for very long.
    • There is a high rate of leadership turnover in the community.
    • Leaders end up leaving soon after assuming a leadership role

Watch the Video Again

After reading the list above, consider the translation choices you brainstormed. Did you come up with similar translations that preserve the meaning of the original signed utterances?

Now watch the video once more and identify other concepts expressed in the video that lend themselves to multiple translations. What contextual factors might influence your decision-making process when deciding on what would make an appropriate translation?