Amy K. Nelson’s Slate story (with video) about Holly Maniatty, “a self-described Vermont farm girl who holds degrees in both American Sign Language linguistics and brain science” and specializes in being a sign language interpreter for rock and rap concerts, is a fascinating read:
Signing a rap show requires more than just literal translation. Maniatty has to describe events, interpret context, and tell a story. Often, she is speaking two languages simultaneously, one with her hands and one with her mouth, as she’ll sometimes rap along with the artists as well. When a rapper recently described a run-in with Tupac, Maniatty rapped along while making the sign for hologram, so deaf fans would know the reference was to Tupac’s holographic cameo at Coachella, not some figment of the rapper’s imagination.
Maniatty, a first-degree black belt in taekwondo, also conveys meaning with her body, attempting to give her signs the same impact as the rapper’s spoken words.
Watching her work is an amazing experience.