Deaf Laugh

Sir Jeff  (left) pose together with deaf group outside Lorenzo's living room (middle standing)Now what is a deaf laugh? A laugh without sound? Is it different from a regular laugh? Is it even louder than a hearing laugh?

Well, basically, there is no difference. A laugh, chuckle, giggle, chortle, cackle that you hear can also be heard from deaf people. Now, what made it different?

When we were in Alcala, Pangasinan during our house visits, all seven of us (including Jefferson Cortez, my hearing companion)  were sitting at the living room of Lorenzo’s rest house. Although exhausted from a long trip, we still managed to joke around and took turns in teasing everybody. One thing about being with the deaf, they enjoy life even without sounds.

While everybody was laughing after every pauses, Lorenzo’s lolo (a 75-year old near-deaf grandfather) who was seated beside me made a meaty comment. He said,

“The deaf were having a great time, aren’t they? I just wish I understand what they are laughing about so I can also laugh with them.”

I too was laughing after I saw the exchanges of teasing in sign language. Then it dawned on me. When us hearing people laugh, there must be a story or item of comedy preceding it. But for them, a brief pause is enough to elicit loud laughs in unison. For any hearing person who is outside the laughing circle but within the hearing range, he will surely be surprised at a sudden burst of laughter without listening to a joke prior to it.

I told Jeff about it. He too was amused. But both of us are used to it. The only dilemma is if there is a hearing non-signing person around, we are compelled to reverse interpret or summarize the storytelling first before he/she can join the laughing session.

So a laugh sound is the same whether it’s from a hearing or a deaf. It’s just a matter of in-between pauses before a united laugh can be heard. 🙂 


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