Mark Cuss Said To The Nymphs: CART Captioning Latin Classes

Mark Cuss Said To The Nymphs: CART Captioning Latin Classes

~~  Originally published in my column “Beyond The Comfort Zone” within NCRA’s Journal of Court Reporting, JCR

By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.

The phone rang Friday at 2:30. “Would you realtime, CART, a class? We need you Monday morning. It started two months ago. Oh, it’s Latin.”

As an experienced court reporter, instructor, tutor, I’m not lucky enough to get math or physics. The university request was for two semesters. I’d get a textbook Monday. I gulped, accepting the opportunity in 1999.

On Monday morning the student arrived, looked at me and my equipment near her seat, and stopped. I wrote on my computer, “My name is Monette. I’ve been asked to help you. Today will be the worst day I write. I don’t have a textbook yet. We’ll work as a team. I promise I’ll get better.”

The teacher began class. I began Latin.

I kid you not, my first day, the start of my first class: Callisto and the nymphs were having a metamorphosis over the birth of Arcas, Juno and the constellations and Mark Cuss (sic) said to the nymphs …

I’ve receive so many requests for information on how to write, how to CART, Latin. I tease: one prefix, root word, suffix at a time, and lots of fingerspelling. And somehow it translates – well, almost.

That day as each student read, translating sentences, learning declensions and tenses, I stroked sounds. When each student spoke Latin, I wrote, “Student Speaking Latin.”

Later I heard a gasp, and my consumer pointed to my realtime screen. I’d written: “Speaking Spanish.” (I had just finished CARTing to two large screens in one large room, five days for a large international Latino convention.)

I shook my head and wrote, “No, I just drifted. It’s still Latin.”

Immediately, in realtime, mortified, I erased those words from the screen.

But she and I got the giggles. Having begun our team building, we were now in the trenches together.

Writing this article, I asked the consumer’s permission to share how I (try to) realtime Latin.

Laney Fox, toes tapping and filled with energy, insisted on sharing.
Laney is deaf, raised oral deaf, and is now learning sign language.

We communicate with realtime, lipreading, sign language and gestures. Somehow it works. At the end of class I give her a rough ASCII disk (verbatim translation) of the entire class. Sometimes I’m reluctant to share it, but we’ve built a strong team communicating with each other and working with the university, instructor.

To provide CART (communication access realtime translation – voice-to-text) in this Latin class, I sit next to Laney with my computer on her desk. We share her text. I point to a selection if a student’s reading. If someone says a word I don’t know, I make a signed hand gesture (usually ASL), and Laney pushes the book to me (we’re sharing a desk for right-handed people; both of us are left-handed). I search for the word, fingerspell it and keep writing.

If the student’s reading from the book, I write, “Reading Latin” and point in the book as the student reads each word. (She likes to follow the class; this is her preference.)

If the student asks a question, I realtime each word to appear on the computer screen. When the professor gives explanations or references, I realtime each word.

Laney makes notes in the text and a notebook and reads my computer screen. As I learn more Latin (actually, sounds), I’m stitching words together. When she’s called upon, Laney translates Latin to English. She answers and asks questions. I stroke Latin phrases.

Sometimes Laney asks, “How do you pronounce that?”
The professor answers in Latin.

I phonetically stroke the word with spaces between sounds. She watches my phonetic translation and reads the word. (I always hold my breath.)

Initially I’d entered sounds in my dictionary when I was preparing to realtime. (I have CARTed to a large screen for St. Francis Di Paola, a Catholic Deaf mass, and various religious, interesting events since 1993.)

Preparing for religious events, I placed sounds with my asterick key, globaling strokes, so when I hit specific keys, they appear as phonetic, English sounds. I now can fingerspell a word faster than stroking it, but when it’s Latin, I have to rely on phonetics.

Sounds help me to help Laney in a Latin university setting at Trinity University.

Laney Fox shares, “Many people think it’s rude to correct a deaf person’s speech. It may be rude for strangers to do that, but after forming a relationship, I think it’s perfectly nice for someone to try to help out a deaf person’s speech.I know many vocabulary words. I simply don’t know how to pronounce them; English is one odd language. The words pronounced do not look the way they are written.”

One weekend I traveled to speak to a state court reporting convention.On my way back, Sunday afternoon, the airplane was canceled. I traveled all night to arrive in San Antonio with only minutes to get to class straight from the airport. I had on yesterday’s clothes.

I wrote, “This is not gonna be pretty; I’ve not slept in two days.”

Laney said, “You don’t have to be good today. It’s OK.”

My heart sang. This is why I do this. I worked so hard to “be good” for Laney.

After class, she said, “You were much better than I thought you were going to be. You were ‘good’ today.”

I sighed and placed my forehead down on the tiny desk on top of my warm computer.

Laney says, “I was so surprised to see Monette come in, telling me she was traveling all night. I would have stayed home and let her go through a class, clueless. After that, I learned her dedication to my involvement in Latin.”

If you want to provide this service, make sure you have a phonetic dictionary you can stroke. Become a confident fingerspeller. Build a rapport with the consumer and teacher. We’ve had challenges. But we’ve worked with gestures, signals and me asking, “Does this make sense?”

Listen for vents that open and close. External sounds interfere when students answer around your seat. Make sure you can hear everyone – front, back and to the side.

Don’t be afraid to tell the class when you have problems. If you can’t hear, others probably can’t hear.

Insist on faculty parking (since we haul heavy equipment, wear and tear dragging our equipment that is bumping over pavement may affect your computer, steno machine). You must have a text and all handouts.

I write all external sounds – sneezing, coughing, birds, stomachs grumbling. I am her ears. If I hear it, I write it.

Keep a sense of humor. Two months into the course, I phoned my dad. Emmett was raised in Jesuit schools, was an altar boy and graduated from Fordham University. He loves Latin.

When I told him about this assignment, he said, “You are in way over your head.”

I laughed and said, “Nope. Gonna do this one, do it well. I’m going to work hard, but I’m going to do this.”

So when I phoned to ask, “What is Ovid, Ovidian?” He howled.

Emmett said, “That’s the author of the huge orange text you’re carrying around. Haven’t you even looked at the cover?”

I laughed, “Nope, been everywhere else, but not the cover.”

After each class I look to Laney. She’s so forgiving and understanding. You must explain how and why words do not translate; why “funnies” pop up. She smirks and giggles when “stuff” appears.

Laney, “I love when we translate Latin stories in class. It’s fun to watch Monette. She frantically waves her arms when she can’t hear. I just love the energy to get me into class discussion.”

If I’d been told I’d be CARTing, realtiming, Latin and giving a rough ASCII verbatim disk to someone in a university classroom, I’d have never believed it. Not in a million years.

But now Marcus, those nymphs, the etymology of Latin with dative, conjugative, ablative, pluperfect, passive prosody applying to dactylic hexameter with basic rules of syntax trans – well, almost.

And it was just my luck to get a Latin honors students with whom I could expand my skills and learn so much about her world.

Today someone asked me how I was doing. I said, “I feel like a character on the I Love Lucy shows.”

The lady replied, “Without the soundtrack?”

Yeah – without the “sound-track”. But I’m looking forward to the final exam. After all, this is Latin.

And Laney Fox was first runner-up in the Deaf Texas Beauty Pageant. Yes, I am honored to be embraced within the deaf and HOH world. She and I are excited to share our passion for this technology with each of you.

Next we write Laney’s experiences and thoughts about receiving CART. Laney, “I want to share to help others. I really do.” Laney insists on sharing – as do I.

Monette, named the Court Reporting Whisperer by students, may be reached:

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Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal, CART Captioner, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

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About Monette Benoit:    As a 30+ year court reporter, CART captioner, author of NCRA and State test-prep material, instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and 225-homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands challenges many adults face in our industry.

In 1993, she began to CART caption to a large screen for a Deaf mass, San Antonio, Texas.  Wonderful opportunities then presented from Big D, Little D, Oral Deaf, HOH consumers -each with special moments.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART captioners, students, instructors. She has helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is an informative, motivational, and funny blog for busy professionals and students who seek to create their success and who seek to enjoy this special path.

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