questionmarkWhen writing a sign language conversation, is it better to write the dialogue normally with a scene description specifying the dialogue is signed, or should each signed line be specified in parentheticals? Would the method change if one side of the conversation is signed while the other side is spoken, or spoken and signed?

— Adam
Toronto

I answered almost exactly this question back in 2005, and I’m happy to see that my suggestion then is still my best answer: consider italics.

MARGIE

(speaking and signing)

These girls are weak. I’m a fifty-year-old woman, yet I can carry a pig two hundred yards.

LUKE

(signing)

You’re so strong.

MARGIE

That’s because I’ve been carrying you for twenty-two years. Seriously, I’ve made you the center of the universe, and when anyone dares challenge that you’re anything less than perfect I regress to Mama Bear mode. It’s amazing more people don’t call us out on this dysfunction.

LUKE

I’m almost a villain, but nobody notices. Because you can only be one thing on a reality show, and I’m the inspiring deaf guy.