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Hong Kong Apostasy

 

In this chapter of The Best China we introduce a sign-language version of ‘Bring Back the Glory to Hong Kong 願榮光歸香港’, the city’s popular protest song cum anthem, and translate an interview with its creator Jason Wong Yiu-pong (黃耀邦, 1993-), a deaf choreographer and sign-language interpreter.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
5 October 2019
First Day of the
Anti-Face Mask Law

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Further Reading:


A still from the sign-language version of the Hong Kong Anthem, ‘Bring Back the Glory of Hong Kong’, featuring Jason Wong (centre)

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Making a Voiceless Anthem That All Can Hear

Jason Wong 黃耀邦

On 23 September 2019, a version of ‘Bring Back the Glory of Hong Kong’ in sign language with movements choreographed by Jason Wong was released on YouTube.

The sign-language version of ‘Bring Back the Glory of Hong Kong’ came out on Monday [the 23rd of September]. Making it entailed a difficult but memorable process, one that began at 18.00 in the evening and didn’t end until 2.00am the following morning. Everyone who was involved — from the group of deaf performers being recorded or the technicians working behind the scenes, as well as our interpreters — were incredibly engaged in the process. Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you all!

《願榮光歸香港》的手語版在星期一出爐了!這一次的拍攝,真是十分難忘的經歷。 從傍晚6點,一直拍到凌晨2點,無論是站在鏡頭前的聾人朋友,還是鏡頭後的工作人員、傳譯員,大家都很熱心。容我在此衷心感謝大家的支持。

This music video is unique, and that’s because it’s ours — it’s something created by deaf people using our own language and our culture. It’s the first time that something like this has ever appeared in Hong Kong.

這一個MV別具意義,因為這是一個聾人用屬於自己的語言、自己的文化,去完成的作品。而這樣的作品,在香港,可以說是初次的嘗試。

Previously, cultural performances that featured deaf people didn’t actually ever involve the deaf. Say, for instance, when a deaf character appears in a TV drama, they are invariably played by an actor who can hear. When other music videos are produced that employ sign language they are things made by people who can hear. This time, however, in this music video all of the performers are deaf and we interpret the song we are performing with sign language — we use our unique language to communicate and touch those who are watching.

以往,涉及到聾人的演出,都不會有聾人的參與,例如:電視劇裏出現的聾人會由健聽人扮演;MV裏包含手語,但是是健聽歌手的MV。而這次,這個MV,演出者是聾人,由聾人以手語演繹這首歌,用自己的語言去感動他人。

Deaf people will not remain silent; for we can use sign language to sign our song; we do so because we too believe in the struggle for the human rights and freedoms that by all rights belong to us. The quest for human rights and freedoms is not something particular to the recent protest movement in which so many Hong Kong People have taken to the streets, for they are the very things that deaf people have been fighting for as a group all along.

聾人不再沉默,選擇用手語歌去發聲,是因為大家都想爭取自己與生俱來應有的人權和自由。 爭取人權和自由,除了是最近香港人走出來的目標,其實亦是聾人一直為自己社群所爭取的權益。

In the past in Hong Kong, both the use and development of sign language has been stymied. As a result, it’s been extremely difficult for deaf people to express themselves adequately. This is a real social problem that is confronting Hong Kong right now. We can only hope that as everyone focusses on all of the major social issues facing our society, they can give some thought to the inequities faced by deaf people. We are not only deaf, for we too are Hong Kong People; we too are members of Hong Kong society.

從前的香港,一直打壓手語的發展和應用,令到聾人難以為自己發聲。這個正正就是現今香港社會的問題。希望大家在關注各大社會議題的同時,亦能留意聾人一直面對的不公。因為聾人的身份除了是聾人之外,亦是香港人,是香港社會的一份子。

It’s because we are all in this together as Hong Kong People that everyone contributed so tirelessly to the production of this sign-language version of ‘Bring Back the Glory to Hong Kong’ — be they the performers on camera or those behind the scenes. It’s because anyone with a conscience and sense of decency is refusing to stand idly by and witness the egregious failures of the present government. We cannot ignore pressing social realities merely for the sake of ‘making a living’.

正正就是「香港人」這個身份,令一眾幕前幕後的工作人員不辭勞苦地製作出這一個手語版《願榮光歸香港》的MV。這是因為所有有良知的人,都能看出現今政府執政失敗,而不能視若無睹。大家不能為了「搵食」,而忽略社會的問題。

Although this was the first time we had ever worked together, all of us — regardless of whether we are deaf or able to hear — collaborated seamlessly. It was a great experience. What was also both surprising and exciting was the reaction following the release of the video. Comments included things like: ‘it was so touching’; ‘it made me tear up’; ‘moving’. If truth be told, we ourselves were moved; we too quietly shed tears of emotion.

這次的拍攝,雖然是大家第一次的合作,但無論是聾人與聾人之間,抑或是聾人與健聽工作人員之間,都相處得很融洽,是很好的體驗。最令人驚訝、振奮的,是MV播出後的迴響。很多留言都說「有洋蔥」、「令人落淚」、「感動」,而事實上,我自己亦有被感動,偷偷落下男兒淚。

I really don’t know how best to thank all of those who participated in this production. They have made me feel how truly special Hong Kong People are. And what I mean by ‘Hong Kong People’ is, regardless of the colour of your skin or your race, you are all equally Hong Kong People.

我不知道該如何感謝所有一起合作的人。我感受到,香港人真的很有愛。「香港人」一名,並無分膚色、無分種族,大家都是香港人。

The song you actually hear in our music video is sung by both young and old voices. I hope in particular that those young friends who participated in our production will remember it far into the future. May they convey the thoughts and feelings of this moment into their lives ahead. I also hope that all of the adult participants will encourage even more people to continue our quest, undaunted and fearless. May everyone shoulder the responsibility to protect and vouchsafe our home for future generations.

MV裏的歌聲,有大人、亦有小朋友。真的希望小朋友們永遠不要忘記這難能可貴的經驗,把自己的所思所想一直流傳下去。亦希望各位大人能夠鼓勵更多的朋友無畏無懼地堅持下去,肩負起為下一代守護好這個家的責任。

Restore Hong Kong, the Revolution of the Times!

 光復香港,時代革命!

PS: Fun fact — Our video was posted on 23 September which just happens to be International Sign Languages Day. Although this added a whole level of meaning to what we were doing, we hadn’t planned it that way at all. It was just a coincidence!

P.S. A little fun fact, MV播出當日(23/9) 是國際手語日,這個日子為這MV多加了一重意義。但事實上,團隊定下播出日期時,並沒有留意原來當日是國際手語日。所以,在這天公布這個MV,純屬巧合!

from Funforestjason, trans. G.R. Barmé

For the YouTube video of the Hong Kong Anthem, see here:

I might not be able to hear, but I can see just fine. I can tell the difference between black and white, and I have a conscience.

我聽不到,但我看得好清楚,何謂黑白、良知。

Jason Wong
黃耀邦

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The Sounds of Silence

‘Signing Brother’ Jason Wong Yiu-pong

手語哥哥無聲中發聲——黃耀邦

An Interview by Wong Hei-lai 黃熙麗

Translated by Geremie R. Barmé

 

On the day of the two-million person protest march Queen’s Road was a sea of people dressed in black. In the swell of marchers Jason Wong and his friends bore their placards aloft, their group led by two of their fellows who used sign language to join in the calls for Carrie Lam to resign. They also signed the slogan ‘Keep Going, Hong Kong!’ In their wake their group of men and women of all ages kept pace with the throng of the other marchers.

200萬人遊行那天,英皇道連綿一片黑海。人潮中,黃耀邦與朋友舉着標語,由兩名代表打頭陣,以手語打着「林鄭下台」、「香港人加油」等口號,隨着男女老幼,徐徐前行。

Amidst the crackling of all the megaphones, the chanting of slogans, the bawling of exhausted children, the shouts of encouragement, as well as of derision, from the sidelines; amidst all of the rambunctious clamour, Jason Wong’s world remained as silent as ever.

咪高峯沙沙的聲音、遊行隊伍中此起彼落的口號、小孩的哭鬧、路人對示威者的指罵或掌聲,身邊眾聲喧嘩,他的世界依舊寂靜。

But then, a person next to him saw people gesturing for them to make way for an ambulance that was trying to get through the crowd.

‘At that moment,’ Wong says, ‘I was so happy!’

In sign language he tells me:

‘It was because we deaf people were truly participating.’

直至有一刻,黃耀邦看見旁人一個接一個打手勢,着大家讓路予救護車。「那一刻我很開心。」他用手語解釋:「因為聾人都可參與其中。」

Someone with normal hearing saw their group and told them that they wanted to learn how to sign. They joined in their march.

‘When they chanted a slogan, we would join in by signing. It was like a Voiceless Protest.’

It was a Call to Arms: a call made both with voices raised and through the power of silence. Together they participate as one; their protest is clarion and deafening.

有陌生的健聽人看到他們,說想學手語,上前加入。「他們叫一句,我們就做一句,好似無聲抗爭。」有聲、無聲的吶喊,齊上齊落,同樣振聾發聵。

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Striving for Equality in Hong Kong
聾人爭取跟港人一樣

Jason Wong’s hearing was badly damaged as a three year old when he suffered from a high fever; at the age of six he went completely deaf. Ever since then he has lived in silence; but he has never let his condition deter him. Even though he couldn’t hear music he’s always loved to dance and he’s particularly enamoured of the strong beat of hip hop music. As a result, he has found a way to express himself through movement.

80後的黃耀邦(Jason)3歲時因一場高燒聽力受損,6歲完全失聰,自此活在無聲的世界,但不甘向命運低頭。連音樂也聽不到,卻鍾情跳舞,喜歡節拍強勁的Hip-hop,以形體動作表達自己。

When our photographer requested that we make a series of portraits of him at the Clock Tower at Tsim Sha Tsui, there was music playing nearby as part of some event. Just as the photographer was setting up, Jason, who was standing patiently to one side, started following the beat of the music by slapping his thighs. It seemed as though he was already dancing to the beat in his mind. I asked our sign-language interpreter if he really couldn’t hear anything. They replied with a smile:

‘Nothing, but whenever he has a moment to himself, Jason just starts to move.’

攝記請他在尖沙嘴鐘樓旁拍些片段,適逢旁邊有活動,正播着音樂。在架攝影機的空檔,站在一角等候的黃耀邦,自然地以雙腿打拍子,構想舞步。我問手語傳譯,他真的聽不到?傳譯笑說:「真的,但無事做時,很自然就是這樣。」

Just think of the years of devoted practice necessary to become a dancer if you can’t hear the music to which you’re practicing? Although the sound of the beat may be inaudible, by turning up the volume he could feel the beat as it coursed through the dance floor, and he would keep time in his heart. Jason Wong has been practicing for many years and, in 2014, he was awarded a scholarship enabling him to study at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. After returning to Hong Kong, he set up a dance school for deaf people with a group of friends.

聽不到音樂的舞者,沒說出來的是多年的苦練。聽不到旋律節拍,就把音樂聲調高,感受地板的聲波震動,在內心數拍子。他練舞多年,2014年獲奬學金到美國Broadway Dance Center學跳舞,回來後與友人創立聾人舞蹈學校。

Jason Wong remembers all too well the times people told him they couldn’t dance, but for him dancing has helped him to overcome obstacles, develop his confidence and find his own way to express himself through physical movement.

‘Dancing has helped me realise that although communicating with other people will always be a challenge for me, I have another way to relate my story.’

黃耀邦記得,許多人說過自己跳不到舞,但跳舞讓他學懂如何克服困難,磨練自信,勇於發聲,以身體動作表達自己。「跳舞令我覺得,雖然與別人溝通仍是不容易,但舞蹈讓我如語言般表達自己的故事。」

Yet, recently, he decided to put his work at the dance academy on hold and devote himself full time to the Anti Extradition Bill Protest Movement. He contributes to the protests by helping other deaf people learn what is going on so that they can participate for themselves. He has become one of the people known as ‘Signing Older Brothers’ — the name for the volunteer deaf interpreters frequently seen at unofficial citizens press conferences held by the protesters, as well as during press briefings organised at the class boycotts mounted by high-school students and at gatherings of public servants. He also takes a lead in classes organised by the group Hong Kong Deaf Empowerment group that has been helping the hearing impaired to understand the movement.

然而最近,他毅然放下舞蹈學校工作,全情投入反《逃犯條例》運動,助聾人了解、參與。他是多個民間記者會、中學生罷課記者會、公務員集會的其中一名「手語哥哥」,義務當手語傳譯,亦參與「聾人力量」組織的聾人學堂,向聾人講述反逃犯條例的資訊。

***

***

Whether it be as an interpreter using sign language, through dance or by participating in street protests, Jason Wong is using his body as an instrument of expression. He may be silent, but he is determined to make himself heard.

‘The deaf have been silent for far too long. We want to let society known what we think and feel so that people can better appreciate our needs. Our hope is that we can play a greater role and join in with the rest of the community.’

當手語傳譯、跳舞、上街遊行集會,他努力以身體表達自己,在無聲中發聲。「聾人已沉默了許多年,我們想向社會表達想法,讓社會多了解聾人的需要,希望社會讓聾人有更多參與,與社會同行。」

He says that the deaf have been striving to achieve the same things that other Hong Kong people are struggling for, that is to say: basic human rights and freedoms.

‘Deaf people still have to struggle for many basic freedoms [that others already enjoy]. The freedoms that people are protesting in support of this time around are the self same things that we want.’

他說,聾人一直爭取的,其實跟香港人爭取的一樣,就是人權、自由。「聾人好多基本的人權都要爭取,跟今次我們爭取自由,其實是同一件事。」

During the Umbrella Movement of late 2014, Jason Wong was in the United States, but he kept up with the unfolding events on the news.

‘At the time I was already worried that there was no way of telling how Hong Kong might change in the future, so I really started paying attention to social issues. As Hong Kong people we all have a responsibility to be engaged.’

He was already worried about the undermining of the city’s basic rights and freedoms.

‘My mother tongue is Hong Kong Sign Language. Would they want to eliminate it and replace it with Mainland Sign Language? Then there’s the fact that I’m a dancer. If my performances featured political content would I be forbidden from dancing? Would all the freedoms related to politics be taken away?’

2014年,雨傘運動期間,他在美國,看着新聞。「當時擔心將來香港不知變成怎樣,開始關心社會。作為香港人,我們都有責任關心。」他擔心將來無人權、自由。「我的母語是香港手語,會不會消滅了香港手語,變成大陸手語?如果我表演跳舞,內容有關政治,會不會不讓我做,沒有了所有同政治有關的自由?」

Jason’s determination to find a way of expressing himself, of ‘speaking out’, is part of a continuing effort to break out of the cage that confines him.

‘From my earliest years I have experienced various forms of oppression; so, for me, the quest for freedom is simply second nature.’

執着於發聲,只因一直希望掙脫樊籠。「因為由小到大都受到壓迫,所以更想爭取自由。」

Deaf people face numerous restrictions, be it in the educational realm or in their everyday lives. Jason Wong says that ‘it’s though we have been forgotten.’ From his earliest days at school he couldn’t ‘read’ his teachers lips and couldn’t keep up with his studies like his classmates and this had an impact on his advancement at school.

In daily life there were also many obstacles, including really small things like the lack of warning lights on the subway platform, or the fact that you could only apply for a passport over the phone. He always had to rely on friends helping out. More crucially important was being treated at hospital when the need arose. Doctors wear surgical masks and so he couldn’t work out what they were saying to him.

‘It takes ages to book a person who can come and sign for you. But if you’re seriously ill you need attention on the spot.’

聾人由教育到日常生活,都面對許多限制。他形容:「像被世界遺棄。」小時候看不懂老師的口型,無法如健聽人般學習,影響升學機會。日常生活中,小至港鐵月台現在沒有了關閘提示燈;換領護照只有電話預約,要靠健聽朋友幫忙;大至到醫院求診,醫生戴着口罩,他們無法讀口型,無法溝通,「預約手語傳譯要等許久,可是生病了,又怎能等呢?」

‘There are also so many kinds of information that are not set down in writing, so you find that you really are missing out on many things pertinent to understanding the world around you. There’s so many things you want to do, but you can’t find out how to go about it.’

He also had difficulty at his first dance class since he couldn’t see the teacher’s mouth, so he couldn’t interpret their instructions. He simply couldn’t keep up. When he went to study in the US he had to go into battle with his school for three months before they finally assigned a sign-language interpreter to him.

‘Studying is already hard enough, then there’s all the difficulties in getting and absorbing information about things, added to that are the hindrances to getting your voice heard.’

It’s the same in the case of the 2019 Protest Movement.

「好多資訊都無字幕,對世界的了解有許多遺漏,想做許多事情都找不到一條路行。」他第一次上跳舞課,因讀不到口型,跟不上。後來到美國深造舞藝,也跟學校糾纏了3個月才成功爭取專業手語繙譯員伴讀。

「讀書已經好難,吸收社會的資訊、發聲亦有好多障礙。」就算參與運動亦然。

Obstacles to Participation
聾人參與的障礙

During one particular demonstration he was aware that something was amiss, but since he couldn’t hear anything, and as there was no sign-language interpreter in the vicinity, he had to use his phone to ask what was happening:

‘I’m sorry’, he texted, ‘but I can’t hear. Can you tell me what’s going on?’

At the time of the Umbrella Movement his hearing-impaired friends couldn’t hear the warnings being issued by the police, nor could they tell when rounds of tear gas were fired. It’s only because the people around them were running for cover that they managed to work out what was happening and catch up so as to avoid ‘getting a bellyful’ of gas. After that kind of stressful experience they didn’t dare go on any more protests.

他曾在遊行隊伍中,觀察到似乎有事發生,卻因聽不到,身旁亦無手語傳譯,於是以手機打字,問旁人:「不好意思,我聽不到,請問現在發生甚麼事?」他有聾人朋友在雨傘運動時,聽不到警方的警告,亦聽不到放催淚彈的槍聲,看到身邊的健聽人拔足狂奔,才跟上他們的步伐,走避不及「吃」了催淚彈,自此不敢再去示威。

During the present movement, the citizens’ press briefings have people signing and Jason Wong has been one of them. But at the government press conferences and in many news reports there are no sign translators, so deaf people can’t work out what is going on. They have to wait until there are written reports of the events or properly signed translations. But there’s always quite a time lag, be it of some hours or even a day or two. The deaf can’t find out what’s happening in a timely manner, let alone can they respond meaningfully.

至於今次運動,民間記者會設手語傳譯,黃耀邦亦有參與傳譯工作,但政府記者會、許多新聞報道都沒有手語傳譯,聾人接收不到資訊,待有文字或手語版本,往往已是數小時甚至一兩日後,連了解都未及,遑論發聲回應。

In June, Hong Kong Deaf Empowerment carried out a survey related to the movement. They asked 133 deaf or hearing-impaired people, along with 132 people with unimpaired hearing, ten questions related to the Extradition Bill protests, including such things as: ‘Are you aware that people have been arrested during the protests?’. The deaf or hearing impaired who replied that they didn’t know were twice to thirteen times more numerous than those with normal hearing.

‘Previously many people have observed that the deaf can’t have their say, but when they want to do so they find they are trapped like birds in a cage,’ Wong tells us.

「聾人力量」在6月曾就反修例運動的資訊進行問卷調查,訪問133名聾人或弱聽人士及132名健聽人士,問及10條關於修例的問題,例如「知不知道有人在反送中抗爭期間被捕」,而聾人或弱聽受訪者回答「不知道」的人數,是健聽人的2至13倍。

「以前好多人說聾人發不到聲,有需要發聲時,卻像困在籠中的鳥兒。」黃耀邦以手語說。

Interviewing someone using sign language means that every time a question is asked, Jason has to focus on exactly what is being conveyed, using his eyes to ‘hear’ what is being said. He then pauses to consider his response and replies with a rapid series of hand gestures. As Jason and the interpreter are engaged in their exchange, I felt that I was an outsider and I found myself feeling ill-at-ease as I was unable to speak their language. That’s what it must be like for deaf people living in Hong Kong where Chinese is spoken everywhere but their language isn’t. The chasm that exists between sign language and spoken Chinese means that the deaf truly feel like they are trapped in a cage.

訪問以手語傳譯進行,每問一句,黃耀邦目不轉睛看着傳譯打手語,用眼睛「聽」完問題,思考一會再飛快打手語作答。旁觀二人打手語,記者有種身在異地、語言不通的不安。對聾人而言,活在說中文的香港,也許每天亦如是。手語跟中文的「語言障礙」,就是把他們困住的籠。

Sign language is the mother tongue of the deaf. For them learning Chinese is akin to learning a second language; that’s like a native speaker of Chinese learning a foreign language like English. Studying language involves ‘listening, speaking, reading and writing’. When he first started at school Jason Wong could barely lip read. Now he can understand about seventy percent of the Chinese that he reads, among his fellows that is regarded as being a pretty good level of attainment.

‘More often than not the deaf are ignored by society at large. We really have to fight for the most basic freedoms, including such things as the right to know things, or the right to receive a full education.

‘Being unable to go to a school that employs your mother tongue is itself a human rights issue; it has an impact on our studies, as well as on our ability to express ourselves. Isn’t silence imposed on us?’

Wong’s mother is also deaf and she fell behind in her early studies.

‘Mum has only very limited Chinese and she really can’t read the paper well enough to find out what’s going on. She often has to ask me. Because we are Hong Kong people, of course we are very interested in what’s happening and we care.’

手語是聾人的母語,於聾人而言,學中文就如健聽人學英文,是第二語言。學語文是「聽講讀寫」,小時候黃耀邦上課,只能一知半解讀口型,現在中文約看懂7成,已是聾人社群中掌握得不錯的一群。「聾人好多時被社會忽略,要爭取好多基本人權,例如知情權、接受教育的權利。其實不讓我們用母語上課,已是人權問題,會影響我們學習、表達,是不是迫我們噤聲?」黃耀邦的媽媽也是聾人,早年的聾人教育更落後。「媽媽只懂好少中文,無法由報紙知道發生甚麼事,常會問我。我們都想關心社會,因為我們也是香港人。」

Wong himself puts a lot of effort into following the news and he scours social media sites like Facebook and Telegram for information about what’s been happening during the Protest Movement. He has also been doing volunteer work at the classes organised by Hong Kong Deaf Empowerment. For instance, they have invited members of LegCo to come and explain the Extradition Bill to them, and lawyers have been asked to give them advice about what they should do when they are arrested.

‘If you’re arrested and can’t communicate because of your deafness. When they see us using sign language they think we’re crazy, so, in the past anyway, you’d be bundled off to Castle Hill Hospital as though you were simply mentally ill. Our classes help people understand how they can get the police to provide them with sign language interpreters so they can better protect themselves.’

黃耀邦努力看新聞,在Facebook、Telegram等收集運動的資訊,轉達朋友,他亦在「聾人力量」辦的聾人學堂義務幫忙,邀請立法會議員解釋《逃犯條例》,亦請律師講聾人被捕時有何要注意。「若被捕,聾人溝通不到,之前有聾人因溝通問題被送去青山醫院,對方會否見到我們打手語,以為是精神病送去青山?學堂讓大家知道,怎樣在警局中要求手語翻譯,保障自己。」

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Jason Wong working at the fifth Citizens’ Press Conference. Source: Apple Daily, 19 August 2019

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Seeing Deaf People in the Protests
在運動中看見聾人

Jason Wong is one of the volunteer ‘Signing Brothers’ who appears at the numerous citizens’ press conferences that are organised by LIHKG. The people giving the briefings all wear face masks and cover their eyes with goggles so, even if the deaf sign-language interpreters could read their lips, there is no way of knowing what they are saying.

‘I just want to do my bit by making a contribution. Being an interpreter is one way that I can do that.’

On such occasions, simultaneous signing translation is done by a person seated in the front of the gathering who hears what is being said and then conveys it back to the signer on stage. They then repeat it for the audience and the camera.

黃耀邦也是多個民間記者會的其中一名「手語哥哥」義務傳譯。記者會的主持都戴口罩、遮上眼睛,就算會讀口型的聾人,也無法知道他們說甚麼。「我只想貢獻社會,當傳譯是其中一種方式。」即時傳譯,是由一名健聽人於台下,聽到台上的說話打手語,台上的聾人傳譯再模彷,向鏡頭打出手語。

Wong says that ideally he needs a day or two to prepare before a job so he can familiarise himself with new and difficult expressions. In that way he can work out with his fellow interpreter — who can hear — just how to ‘say’ them. Since the grammar used in sign language is different from Cantonese:

‘If we were to translate every word, then some people, especially those who are a bit older, would have difficulty understanding what we were signing. There’s so many new nouns, so we really have to get together and work out how to convey them to other deaf people. Take, for instance, the expression ‘Anti Extradition to China’ — you can’t just translate the words ‘anti’, ‘send’ and ‘China’. You need to interpret it as meaning “detaining a person in one place to take them somewhere else and that we oppose that happening”.’

他說,每次當傳譯,事前最好有一至兩天準備,因有新或難的字,要事先與健聽的傳譯商量。因聾人手語的語法與廣東話不同,「若逐字譯,便成了中文手語,特別是年紀大的,容易看不懂。好多名詞都是新的,要大家商量,如何讓聾人看懂,例如反、送、中不能字譯,而是意譯成將一個地方的人捉去另一個地方,反對,送去。」

He decided to leave the dance academy he’d helped set up so he could devote himself to supporting the struggle.

‘Of course I did it reluctantly, but I really wanted to spend more time involved in the resistance; to be involved in issues related to the rights of the deaf along with the broader freedoms of Hong Kong people as a whole.’

Early on he attended the rallies of striking students at Chinese University. Seated among the protesters a student recognised him as one of the ‘Signing Brothers’ and approached him to ask how he could say ‘Restore Hong Kong, Revolution of the Times’ in sign language.

‘Various media outlets started featuring deaf people using sign language. It’s something that hadn’t happened before. This movement has caused people to pay attention to the deaf, to sign language and to a realisation that deaf people exist. It’s enabling more people to hear different voices.’

為了有更多時間支持抗爭,他毅然退出跳舞學校。「其實都有遺憾,但我願意花好多時間在抗爭,關注聾人人權、港人的自由。」他早前去了中大罷課集會,坐在台下,有健聽大學生認出他是其中一名「手語哥哥」,主動上前問「光復香港、時代革命」的手語怎麼打。「不同傳媒也開始拍攝到聾人傳譯的畫面,以前是沒有的。這場運動令社會關注聾人、手語,意識到原來社會上有聾人,也讓更多人聽到不同聲音。」

Everyone Marching Together
聾健同行

‘I might not be able to hear, but I can see just fine. I can tell the difference between black and white, and I have a conscience.’

「我聽不到,但我看得好清楚,何謂黑白、良知。」

On 16 June, Jason Wong and a group of around eighty deaf people of different ages, along with eight non-hearing impaired signing translators, participated in that day’s demonstration. Arms held high they chanted their protest slogans in sign language.

‘We had explained to everyone what the “Extradition Bill” was all about and even older deaf people wanted to join our march.’

There were also others who joined in, people they didn’t know and who were not hearing impaired. So it ended up that the group was led by those people who chanted out loud:

‘Carrie Lam Resign!’

They were followed by a collective signed chant that expressed the same demand.

6月16日,黃耀邦與約80名不同年紀的聾人,跟8名健聽譯者一同遊行,高舉雙臂,一起打手語口號。「我們向大家解釋甚麼是《逃犯條例》,有上了年紀的聾人都一起來。」有素未謀面的健聽人加入,於是前方叫一句「林鄭下台!」後方便動作一致,一起打一句手語。

‘Previously, during the Umbrella Movement, deaf people only realised that they should disperse when tear gas was fired because they could see what the other protesters were doing. We couldn’t hear the canisters being launched; we had to rely on what we could see. But we do have particularly acute sight; we notice everything.’

This time around, lots of Jason’s deaf friends are participating in the demonstrations, but since they can’t hear they are very mindful of their surroundings — they have an eye on everything [一眼關七, literally, ‘one eye on all seven points’, that is, ‘before, after, left, right, top, centre and bottom’ 前後左右上中下 — trans]. Even when they are physically present at a demonstration they rely on WhatsApp to ask friends what is happening around them. Jason expresses the hope that when other demonstrators encounter a deaf person they will keep an eye out for them.

‘If you know sign language, please take the initiative to communicate with us. Because we can’t hear we don’t know if or where there is danger.’

「之前佔中時,有聾人聽不到催淚彈,見到健聽人走,自己才跟着走。我們聽不到,惟有用眼睛關注現場情況,我們眼力很好,可以留意到好多事。」他有不少聾人朋友也會去遊行集會,因聽不到,大家都步步為營,「一眼關七」,有時就算身在現場,也要以WhatsApp找朋友問現場情況。黃耀邦希望,若大家遇到聾人,可多關心。「若健聽人懂手語,可以主動溝通。因聾人聽不到,就算有人大叫危險也不知道。」

At a time like the present, when there are demonstrations held despite official refusals to issue permits to protesters, deaf people, like everyone else, get enveloped in clouds of tear gas and can easily end up being arrested. If protesters in the Pacifist Camp have their concerns, such concerns are even greater among the deaf. Why, then, given the circumstances, are they still so determined to ‘speak out’ [發聲]? Up until this point in the interview Jason had been responding in sign language, now he suddenly grabs a pen and writes the words:

‘Original Intention’. [初衷, a term also favoured by the Chinese Communists under Xi Jinping.]

‘Our purpose; you have to keep your original aim in mind; you must have the courage to use your actions to express yourself. I regard human rights as fundamental; I too yearn for our freedoms. But we live in a society in which there are many forms of hegemony and of repression. We are a minority that by its very nature has difficulty making itself heard. But I’m a Hong Kong Person and I sincerely want things in Hong Kong to get better; I want our society to progress. That’s why I want to continue protesting. That is my heartfelt Original Intention.’

在有不反對通知書的遊行集會,也有機會吃催淚彈、被捕的今天,就算當「和理非」也有許多考慮,聽不到的聾人更甚,為甚麼還要站出來發聲?整個訪問中,黃耀邦都以手語作答,卻突然拿起筆,在紙上寫了兩個字:「初衷」。「初衷,要記住自己的初衷,勇敢用行動去表達自己。我好重視人權,渴望自由,但這個社會仍有好多霸權、壓制。我們是小眾,發聲已經好困難。我是香港人,好想香港變好,好想社會進步,所以好願意繼續去抗爭,這是我的初衷。」

During our conversation, Jason Wong repeatedly says: ‘I am a Hong Kong Person.’

‘I express myself using Hong Kong sign language. Hong Kong is an international city. Although it’s small, it’s a beautiful place. It’s a city that I want to contribute to protecting.

‘People ask me why I don’t immigrate to America, a place where I could do much better for myself. It’s true that the support system for the deaf in Hong Kong is very poor; but I still want to do what I can to help improve things in this society, to contribute in particular to disadvantaged groups, including the disabled and sexual minorities.

‘This time more people are paying attention to the deaf than they did during the Umbrella Movement. We all want to take part; we will march together.’

Being in it together from start to finish.

Keep It Up, Hong Kong!

訪問中,黃耀邦說了許多遍:「我是香港人。」「我是用香港的手語溝通。香港是國際城巿,雖然小,卻是個好美的地方,我想守護自己的城巿。有人問我為何不移民美國,有更好事業發展。香港的聾人支援是好差,但我仍好想幫這社會進步,特別是弱勢社群,包括殘疾、性小眾。今次運動,比上次佔中有更多人關注聾人,我們都想參與其中,一齊同行。」

齊上齊落,香港人加油。

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‘Keep It Up, Hong Kong!’ Jason Wong signing. Source: Ming Pao

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Source: Jason Wong’s Facebook page