Book Spotlight: Reading Between the Signs by Anna Mindess

William Woods ASL

“The real job is not to understand foreign culture but to understand our own… all one ever gets from studying foreign culture is a token understanding. The ultimate reason for such study is to learn more about how one’s own system works.”

—Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language

If you have studied American Sign Language interpreting in any capacity, odds are you recognize Reading Between the Signs. If you’re thinking about studying interpreting, whether for pleasure or in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in ASL interpreting, this classic will likely make its way into your life at some point or another — as a textbook in your interpreting courses, as a reference, and in Deaf culture or American Sign Language classes as well.

The Interpreting Report writes, “The book accurately claims that linguistic knowledge is only part of the skill set that interpreters need to do their job. Interpreters are also cultural mediators, and therefore need to be familiar with Deaf and hearing cultures.”

Whether or not the workbook is required for a class, it provides a more hands-on approach and puts you into real-life situations.

In the workbook, Author Anna Mindess writes “there are two paths to effective learning: the knowledge acquired through books and instructors and the wisdom gained from personal experience.”

Her goal with the workbook is to help provide a little more of this latter kind of learning, as the former is accomplished in the book.

While Mindess’ book has reached thousands of American Sign Language interpreting and language students, The Interpreting Report highlights its even greater impact.

“Groundbreaking books require authors to step bravely into unexplored territory. Mindess has done this…We must honor her work by working through her ideas, building on them, and moving her spirit forward… we should be inspired by Mindess (as I have been) to make our mark on the field by adding depth and breadth to the concepts we use.”