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About My Lexicon: 2023


My name is CARINA.  I have a very limited spoken vocabulary and I can communicate only part of what I want to say using spoken words.  Alfred has observed that I have a lexicon of over 400 words (including 50 names) which I can either say, sign or gesture .  So far, we have made videos for 46 words (Stage 1).  When I left 'school'(Lennox Castle Hospital), I had a Makaton teacher called Ann from Inclusion Glasgow.  She helped to care for me for two years, teaching me lots of makaton words through games we played.  John and Alfred learned Makaton with me which helped and encouraged me to do better.

Some of the words I speak are not recognisable by people who don't know me.  I say GAGA to mean both Christmas and Santa and also Cara, my friend.  Others can be guessed at; WAW-WAW (DOG) or MEEYA (CAT).  Some of my gestures are quite easy to understand, like the one for PHONE.  Others are peculiar to myself, for example HOLIDAY, HEAVEN, HORSE RIDING and POLICE.  Some of my signs are in BSL (British Sign Language) such as NEIGHBOUR and HELP, because I never learned the  Makaton sign for these words.  My spelling game, FIRST KEYS now has over 400 words.

I watched a programme on TV with Alfred, made by deaf people,  called Deaf Not Dumb.  We really enjoyed it, especially the music.  Alfred wants to HELP me so he called the title of the web page you are reading DUMB NOT DAFT.  Maybe one day someone will HELP me to make a music video, just like those deaf people.  We have made some videos.  We made a very special one, many years ago, long before I could even say my own name.  It HELPed me to learn to say many of the new words in my vocabulary, and to learn to use many of the signs I use today.  We had read a 'book' called "The Same As You?"

When I first came to live in the community, my first carer, Ann, was a teacher of Makaton.  I made very good progress, learning lots of signs which I still use today, like SISTER.  I have also learned to sign a few words using BSL, not many, but words that are important to me and which I have no other way of communicating, like MEETING, HOTEL and NEIGHBOUR.   Alfred is making a short video of me saying or signing each word, so that people can understand me better.

When I left 'school' (my word for the place where I stayed before I came to live in the community) some people thought that I would never be able to say words of three syllables.  Well, I can not only sign and say BUTTERFLY, but at the age of 46 I learned to say my own name CARINA.    Before, when I was asked what my name was I used to look to whoever was with me to speak my name for me.  I like being able to say my own name.  I can also sign big words, like DANGEROUS, HOSPITAL and COMMUNITY.  I even have gestures for MEDICATION and OPERATION.

Signing has HELPed me to learn to say other words that I could not say before, like SPAIN, ONE, THREE, MONDAY, TUESDAY, FRIDAY, SUNDAY, and a growing number of others.  But what's the point of signing if people around me can't understand me.  I have always been able to say TWO, but now it's nice to know more numbers.  I know how to write may name and I can recognise five letters C for Carina, M for Mummy, P for Peter, E for Eric, J for John and A for Alfred.  It would be nice to be able to recognise even more letters.  I enjoy learning and I like being CLEVER.

When children are learning to speak, they learn that "D" is for Dog, but for me, the sign for Dog is for "D" (I know there is a sign for "D" but I remember better when we use the sign for Dog for "D").  That's how I learned to say DORINA (Alfred's sister).  I used to hum The Northern Lights for Old Aberdeen (not the whole of it, just the title tune) when I meant to refer to Doreen, as she used to live in Aberdeen where her daughter Jenny went to SCHOOL.  Now she lives in SPAIN, and so does John's sister, Isabel.

Now that I have Skype (washing machine syndrome - don't know what I ever did without it) I can talk to my FRIENDs at home and abroad, and they can see and understand me much better.  When I use only the phone, other people get frustrated because they have to guess what sign I'm making (DENTIST, HAIRCUT or any word for which I can only sign and cannot say).  They sometimes don't realise that I make signs when I'm phoning.  It is good when other people HELP because they can explain what sign I'm making.  It is not so good (and neither am I) when I don't get that HELP.  Alfred used to call it a psychic experience, talking to me on the phone that is.

I find it frustrating when this happens, and even more frustrating when their first guess is wrong.  If I just cannot make myself understood (I know after all what I am saying or signing) then I get very frustrated indeed.  Then I get into trouble.

I used to have a communication book which I liked to take with me when I went visiting.  I used it to point to things I wanted to talk about.  It was nice hearing John read out to me what I'd been doing, in fact, nice when anyone read it out to me.  I would nod in agreement because I knew, from the pictures and stickers on the page, what the story was about.  I don't have that diary any more so Alfred puts stories of some of my adventures on My Calendar each month which gives me my own online communication calendar.  When my FRIENDs or NEIGHBOURs phone me it's nice of them to ask and talk about what I've been up to.  Almost as if they can read my mind.  Such a break from the repetitiveness of my usual questions!  Have you got a watch?  Did you get it for Christmas?

I like DANCING.  I love PARTIES, especially my own (or anyone else's) birthday party.  I like playing with playing CARDs, as well as making and sending (and receiving) CARDs and I enjoy playing CARD memory games (pelmanisms) on my website.  I like playing word games, number games, and letter games on my laptop.  I love making JIGSAWs and also doing JIGSAWs on my website.  I love staying in HOTELs or going to one for a conference, or a special day.

Just in the last couple of months, Alfred has made it easy for me to click on some of the words in my stories and people can then see me sign the word.  I still like using my laptop for games and music, but now it gives me pleasure when family and friends come and I can show them just some of the things I've been doing.  I have lots of friends already (and they are not all people) and I am always making new friends.  I love going on holiday, different holidays with different people.  I love having sleepovers with different friends.  I like doing different things with different FRIENDs.  Just the same as you.

As people around me change, I sometimes have to find new gestures for what I want to say.  These gestures become peculiar to particular people.  It would be nice if everyone talked the same language to me.  MY LANGUAGE.

Some people don't even like me learning new signs and think signing is 'dummy language'.  I don't understand why?  Someone should write a book "Signing for Dummies".

I soon outgrew my Makaton vocabulary.  There were just no signs for some words I wanted to say.  It was very lucky for me that my next door neighbour Elsie uses BSL and has taught me many more words, extending my vocabulary even further.

There's not much I can't express now but the hard problem is other people, failing to understand what I'm clearly saying or at least trying to say.  When they guess wrong I get frustrated.  When there next guess is also wrong I get mad at their stupidity.  If their third guess is wrong I just give up.

We have only made about 40 videos so far.  We started when we were on holiday with Isabel and Bill with the words for HOTEL, HOUSE and HORSE RIDING, so we have a long way to go.  We make more when our friends come to visit.  When we have made all the videos, Alfred will be able to re-visit this web page and make my signs available to see just by clicking on the all the words in capital letters.  This will probably take us another year.  We might manage it sooner if everyone in my life was as keen as I am to improve my communication.  Oh well, at least the calendar for 2012 is almost ready.  I HELPed Alfred to choose which photos to put in it. 

In the meantime, I just like playing with my letters and looking for words that I know.  As I've already said, I know which letters to click on to find ALFRED, CARINA, ERIC, JOHN, PETER and MUMMY from the alphabet grid at the top of this page, but I have a lot more to learn.  Here are some examples (and Out-takes).

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Sapere aude To my friends, who dared me to learn. 

Special thanks to Ed Jean, Elgin, USA for his HELP with embedding multiple youtube videos

Special thanks to Gabrielle, Jon and DORIS for helping me to learn to speak my own name (at the age of 46), and especially to Gabrielle, for painting all my beautiful tropical lettering names and words.



Very special thanks to MUMMY and to everyone who commented in my Guest Books (Old and New).                   back to top

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About My Alphabet:

I use my alphabet to click on a letter and see all the words in my lexicon which begin with that letter.

All I see of this entire web page is the grid of letters at the top, the stories are for my friends.

All the letters from A-Z are ready for me to use (but not all the signing videos have been made yet).  I already know which letters to click on to find ALFRED, CARINA, ERIC, JOHN, PETERand MUMMY from the alphabet grid at the top of this page, and now I am going to learn some more letters.

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