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更新时间:2019/5/6 20:57:06 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A town where most speak sign language

Kolok Getar flexed his biceps, puffed out his chest and jutted a pugnacious jaw. Although the old man was sitting cross-legged on the concrete floor, his wiry Balinese frame took on the characteristics of a belligerent bantam fighting cock.

克洛克·捷达(Kolok Getar)弓起二头肌,挺起胸膛,扬起好斗的下巴。尽管这位老人盘腿坐在水泥地板上,但他那巴厘岛人特有的结实体格却将其饶勇好斗的个性表现得淋漓尽致。

“He used to be known as a real tough guy,” his nephew Wisnu smiled. “He was famous as a martial arts expert and could break coconuts in half with his hand.”


Kolok Getar pointed at a row of palms that were swaying in the hilltop breeze. His gnarled fingers formed the shape of a large sphere and he delivered a vicious chop to the imaginary coconut. The circle of friends seated on the floor around him broke into applause. Apart from their bursts of laughter (and Wisnu’s translations into Indonesian for my benefit), the entire conversation had taken place without a word being uttered.


Kata Kolok, literally meaning ‘deaf talk’ in Indonesian, is a unique sign language that is currently the primary means of communication for just 44 people on the entire planet. For about six generations, an unusually large proportion of Bengkala’s population has been born deaf – something that locals for many years attributed to a curse, but which scientists have more recently pinned down to a recessive gene (known as DFNB3) that over the decades has resulted in about one in 50 babies in this community being born deaf. But in many ways these people – all deaf from birth and referred to as ‘kolok’ (deaf) by their fellow villagers – are more fortunate than deaf people in other areas. That’s because more than half of the hearing people in the highland village of Bengkala have also learned Kata Kolok, solely for the benefit of communicating with deaf family members and friends.

卡塔克洛克(Kata Kolok)是一种独特的手语,在印尼语里意为“聋人间的谈话”。目前,全球仅44人仍将其用作主要的沟通手段。这个村庄本卡拉(Bengkala)的人口中有相当大的一部分人先天性失聪,这一现象持续了整整六代人。多年以来,当地人一直认为这是一种诅咒,但科学家们最近发现这是一种名为DFNB3的隐性基因引起的。在过去的几十年里,村落里每50个婴儿就约有一个是先天性耳聋。当地村民将这些先天性耳聋的人称为“克洛克”(聋人)。比起其他地区,本卡拉村的聋人幸运多了。这是因为在本卡拉这个高地村庄,为了与丧失听力的家人和朋友交流,超过一半听力正常的人也学会使用“卡塔克洛克”。

Very few tourists make the two-hour drive from the tourist centre of Ubud over the volcanoes to the coastal hinterlands of north Bali, which remain one of the poorest parts of the island. Most of the kolok in Bengkala carve a subsistence living from farming or labouring, but traditionally have also been hired by their fellow villagers as security guards and gravediggers. Today, as Kolok Getar relives his martial arts glory days, he and his friends are waiting for a funeral that is scheduled to happen at the Pura Dalem (Death Temple) on the outskirts of Bengkala.


“When my uncle was younger, he toured the island making a small living by giving martial arts demonstrations,” Wisnu translated as Kolok Getar continued his story in a whirl of karate-chop hand signs. “He met many deaf people but could hardly communicate with them, because, if they knew sign language at all, it was a different version [from the one used in Bengkala]. Those deaf people were often lonely because they could only talk with one or two members of their close family.”


By comparison, the kolok of Bengkala are relatively fortunate. They’re able to communicate with a large proportion of people in this 3,000-strong, close-knit village.


“If it’s your destiny to be born deaf,” said I Ketut Kanta, spokesman for Bengkala’s Deaf Alliance, “then this would very likely be the best place in the world to grow up!”

本卡拉聋人联盟发言人坎塔(Ketut Kanta)说:“如果你先天失聪,那么这里很可能是世界上最适合你生活成长的地方!”

Hearing people are known as ‘enget’, and no matter where you are in the village you will often come across mixed groups of kolok and enget all chatting in what they call ‘deaf talk’. Whether you’re visiting the primary school, at the central temple or sipping sweet black kopi (coffee) at Pak Suparda’s little warung (stall), you’re likely to see deaf and hearing people in animated but silent conversation, or jostling each other with boisterous laughter.

听力正常的人被称为“恩格特”。村庄里随处可见用手语聊天的失聪者和健全人。无论你是在小学、寺庙,还是在称为帕克苏帕达(Pak Suparda)的小摊喝香甜的黑咖啡,你都能看到他们在进行热烈但沉默的交谈,时不时发出欢快的笑声。

The signs in Kata Kolok are often so surprisingly obvious that even a new arrival will understand: the sign for ‘male’, for example, is a rigidly pointing index finger, while the sign for ‘father’ is the same finger curved across the top lip like a moustache. ‘Woman’ is denoted with two fingers forming a narrow opening, while ‘mother’ is a cupped breast. ‘Thirsty’ is shown by the stroking of an apparently parched throat, and ‘coffee’ is a finger twisting against the forehead in the same manner that is used to denote a crazy person in the West.


Kata Kolok has evolved naturally and is constantly being added to by the most imaginative and garrulous among the village’s signers. A side-effect of this is that this village seems to have more than its share of talented and highly energetic actors. The most effervescent of the Kata Kolok communicators bring a joyful mood of laughter and slapstick that seems to be a powerful bonding tool between the deaf and the hearing.


“Kolok and enget are paid equal rates for work in the village,” I Ketut Kanta told me. “Nevertheless, it isn’t easy for deaf people to find a job outside the village, and it is sometimes hard to get by here on local labour wages of about US$5 a day.”


However, today Kolok Getar and his four kolok friends are fortunate: they’ve been hired to dig a grave. Balinese Hindus typically cremate their dead, but it is an expensive ceremony. So, as is common here, I Nyoman Widiarsa’s sons must bury their father while they save for the costs of a cremation.

克洛克·捷达和他的四个聋人朋友很幸运,因为有人雇他们去掘墓。巴厘岛上的印度教徒会火葬死者,整个葬礼耗资巨大,但在巴厘岛,这很普遍。纽曼(Nyoman Widiarsa)的儿子们为了火葬父亲不得不省吃俭用。

A Balinese funeral is often unnerving to Western sensibilities since (outwardly at least) it appears often to be an almost joyous affair. The Balinese believe that if the spirit of the dead person senses grief among his family members, he may have second thoughts about moving on to the next life. That’s why the ceremony takes place with the same sort of light-hearted chatter with which the Balinese seem to do everything.


That means that the clowning and prancing of Kolok Getar and his grave-digging colleague Kolok Sudarma at the graveside was not considered inappropriate. Even the close family laughed along. They lowered the body carefully into the hole and Kolok Sudarma climbed down into the grave to place the mirrors in position back on the corpse’s eyes. These mirrors are said to guarantee that the deceased will be reborn with clear vision in the next life. (Interestingly, there is no similar ritual for the ears).

所以人们并不会觉得克洛克‧捷达和他的同事克洛克‧苏达玛(Kolok Sudarma)在墓地边滑稽欢腾的表现是不合时宜的,甚至连最亲近的家人也会跟着大笑。他们会将尸体小心翼翼地放进洞里,苏达玛会爬下墓穴,把镜子反过来放在尸体的眼睛上。据说这些镜子能保证死者来世拥有清晰的视野。(有趣的是,并没有类似的仪式来恢复听力。)

“Hearing people used to say that the koloks could communicate with the evil spirits that haunt graveyards,” Wisnu told me, “but the truth is that they simply have a reputation for being tough and fearless.”


Some Bengkala villagers claim their deaf friends are immune to the spooky noises – whispers from the grave and evil spirits – that ‘haunt’ hearing people. Others point out that manual labour and a need to fend for themselves when they leave the village has given rise to the kolok toughness. Whatever the reason, there is a noticeable level of respect in the village for the kolok community, and several villagers have set out to champion their cause.


I Ketut Kanta gives free Kata Kolok lessons to children. Connie de Vos, a Dutch researcher from the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University in the Netherlands, has visited many times over the course of the last decade and helped I Ketut Kanta lobby for the inclusion of kolok children in the local school and for Kata Kolok lessons for hearing children. The village also has a craft centre, called KEM, where several kolok women are employed to produce woven textiles on traditional handlooms. The centre also attracts occasional tourist groups who come to watch kolok martial arts as well as a specially choreographed dance known as Janger Kolok, which has become locally famous and is even performed at hotels and government conferences throughout the region.

坎塔会免费教孩子们手语。荷兰内梅亨大学语言研究中心的研究员康妮(Connie de Vos)在过去的十年中多次来参观他的课堂,还帮助坎塔游说当地学校接纳失聪儿童并为健全儿童提供手语课程。村里还有一个叫做KEM的工艺中心,雇佣了几名失聪妇女用传统手摇纺织机织布,并吸引了一些旅游团前来观看聋人武术表演和一种特别编排的舞蹈聋人之舞(Janger Kolok)。这种舞蹈在当地很有名,甚至会在巴厘岛的酒店里和政府会议上表演。

Linguists have established that the Kata Kolok language, like their unique dance, has little in common with other sign languages.


“Kata Kolok has very little influence from either Indonesian or Balinese spoken language or from sign languages outside the village,” said Hannah Lutzenberger, a PhD candidate at Radboud University who is fluent in Kata Kolok after four long stints in the village. “An insight into the richness of Kata Kolok can be derived from the name signs for deaf individuals,” she continued. “All kolok are known by name signs. Because this is a vibrant signing community, these names are usually given by deaf peers relatively early in life but they can change throughout a lifetime. They usually relate either to appearance or to a personal habit.”

奈梅亨拉德堡德大学大学(Radboud University)的博士生汉娜(Hannah Lutzenberger)说:“卡塔克洛克几乎没有受到印尼语、巴厘语以及其他手语的影响。卡塔克洛克所表现的丰富内涵可以从聋人的名字手势中看出。所有的聋人都有自己的名字手势。在这个充满活力的手语社区中,聋人的名字通常在很年幼的时候是同龄的失聪人给取的,但是他们一生都可以随意更换名字。这些名字通常与外表或个人习惯有关。”

Kolok Getar, for example, is known by a forward-pointing hand held in front of the mouth. It might look like a beak, but, by the time I’ve crossed paths with him several times in Bengkala’s narrow streets, I’ve noticed him adopt that same posture frequently as he acts out the martial arts glories of his younger years. I realise that this action will for all time remind me of this cheerful man.


While he’s forgotten many of his martial arts skills, Kolok Getar is still respected in the area, even at 78 years old. He’s been given the responsibility for the maintenance of the water pipes, which in this arid northern part of the island is quite literally the lifeblood of his community. When there’s a broken pipe, it’s his job to travel up into the hills to find the break. Often the cause turns out to be people from a neighbouring village who ‘poached’ the water for their own use.


“I try never to use violence when I catch them,” the old man signed, with such a tough and determined look that I nod my head in energetic agreement, “but I don’t need to, because people around here know that you don’t tangle with a kolok… It’s an unspoken rule.”