3 Awesome Translations From This Sign Language Rap Battle


Holly Maniatty, Joann Benfield, Amber Galloway Gallego are American Sign Language interpreters who have worked concerts for some of the biggest names in rap. Jimmy Kimmel had them on his show for a “rap battle” where they took turns interpreting for Wiz Khalifa as he performed “Black and Yellow.”

People often watch sign language interpreters to see how they’re going to sign a particular word, but sign interpretation isn’t a word-for-word recreation of a song. In fact, no kind of language interpretation works that way. When it comes to interpreting, meaning is key, and that means finding not just the right words, but the right way to frame a whole idea. These three interpreters do a great job capturing the meaning and feeling of the lyrics in this song. Here are 3 particularly good translations.

1. “And I got the pedal to the metal, got you n*s checking game”

Maniatty signs a foot pressing the pedal, then the needle on the speedometer shooting up, then scenery flying by, and sets of eyes on both sides turning toward her.

2. “No love for ‘em, n*a breakin’ hearts. No keys, push to start.”

Benfield makes a sign for emotion in the heart with a dismissive look on her face, then the sign for cry, then the sign for key, throwing it over her shoulder, and starting a car and putting into gear. With attitude.

3. “So many rocks up in my watch I can’t tell what the time is.”

Galloway Gallego signs watch and looks at it while making the sign “sparkle” off the position of the watch, followed by the sign for eyes looking at it while wobbling around confused, followed by an adoption of the confused person’s point of view to show the reaction.

It is important to remember, that while an explanation like this points out many ways in which the signs “look like” the meanings they represent, we are not dealing with imitation or pantomime. All the interpreters are working within the well-defined grammar of ASL, using things like classifier predicates, role shift, and facial grammatical markers. (Which we’ve discussed before here, here, and here.) It’s language, poetry, and performance all coming through at the same time.

Eye-Related Idioms From Around the World, Illustrated

"Apple of my eye." "Feast your eyes on this." "I have eyes in the back of my head." English has quite a few idioms that include the word "eye." But it's not the only language that does.

Contact lens retailer Lenstore gathered and illustrated 10 eye-related idioms from around the world that don't exist in English, which you can scroll through in the interactive infographic below or view here. In Spanish, the saying "Me costó un ojo de la cara," translated as "It cost me an eye from my face," means "to buy something that was extremely expensive." It's similar to the English idiom "It cost me an arm and a leg." In German, "Tomaten auf den Augen haben" ("To have tomatoes on the eyes") means "failing to spot something obvious."

The wonderful world of idioms stretches far beyond just eyes, though. Here, you can find out the origins of horse-related idioms like "hold your horses," and here you can learn about strange international rain-related idioms, like Greece's particularly peculiar "It's raining chair legs."

Learn more about how different cultures view the eye through the lens of these unique idioms below:

[h/t Lenstore]
Afternoon Map
The Literal Translation of Every Country's Name In One World Map

What's in a name? Some pretty illuminating insights into the history and culture of a place, it turns out. Credit Card Compare, an Australia-based website that offers its users assistance with choosing the credit card that's right for them, recently dug into the etymology of place names for a new blog post to create a world map that highlights the literal translation of the world's countries, including the United States of Amerigo (which one can only assume is a reference to Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who realized that North America was its own landmass).

"We live in a time of air travel and global exploration," the company writes in the blog. "We’re free to roam the planet and discover new countries and cultures. But how much do you know about the people who lived and explored these destinations in times past? Learning the etymology—the origin of words—of countries around the world offers us fascinating insight into the origins of some of our favorite travel destinations and the people who first lived there."

In other words: there's probably a lot you don't know about the world around you. But the above map (which is broken down into smaller bits below) should help.

For more detailed information on the background of each of these country names, click here. Happy travels!


More from mental floss studios