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The Birth of a Word
Posted: 30 December 2013 04:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Faldage - 29 December 2013 05:57 PM

OP Tipping - 29 December 2013 03:11 PM
Do deaf children of deaf parents learn sign language “without special instruction”, ie by observing their parents’ sign language?

That’s my understanding.  I’ve done a little reading on the subject, not enough to make me an expert, but enough to make me believe that that is the case.

We would include “hearing children of deaf parents” in this, wouldn’t we?

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Posted: 30 December 2013 05:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Sign language is true language. It differs from speech only in the medium of communication (visual as opposed to oral).

Children with parents who sign learn sign language the same as they would a spoken language.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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There are communities where a large portion of the populace is deaf.  In those where the deafness is a recessive congenital trait the use of sign language is pretty much universal, used by deaf and hearing alike.  When the deafness is a dominant trait it tends to be used only in the families with deaf members.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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lionello - 29 December 2013 01:45 PM

Those who’ve read Tarzan of the Apes* will recall that Tarzan taught himself to read from his dead parents’ books, and actually wrote letters in English to other people in the story, despite never having heard or uttered human speech. It is a tribute to Burroughs’ talent as a storyteller that this (and a whole lot of other) stuff made him enduringly famous. As a boy, I read everything of Burroughs’ that I could lay my hands on.

*Now available on-line at the Gutenberg Project

Hear, hear! That moment when Tarzan teaches himself to read, to my primitive boyhood mind, was a major focal point for understanding linguistics and language acquisition.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 09:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I imagine that it would be possible to construct a set of books that one could use to teach oneself to read without outside help. They would have include some picture books…

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Posted: 30 December 2013 09:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Faldage - 30 December 2013 04:26 PM

There are communities where a large portion of the populace is deaf.  In those where the deafness is a recessive congenital trait the use of sign language is pretty much universal, used by deaf and hearing alike.  When the deafness is a dominant trait it tends to be used only in the families with deaf members.

Can you give some examples?

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Posted: 30 December 2013 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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“Dave Wilton” date="1388432147"]Sign language is true language. It differs from speech only in the medium of communication (visual as opposed to oral).

The link below impressively illustrates your position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_keller

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Posted: 31 December 2013 02:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Logophile - 30 December 2013 10:56 PM

“Dave Wilton” date="1388432147"]Sign language is true language. It differs from speech only in the medium of communication (visual as opposed to oral).

The link below impressively illustrates your position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_keller

Are there people who hold contrary positions to Dave’s on this issue?

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Posted: 31 December 2013 04:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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OP Tipping - 30 December 2013 09:46 PM

Faldage - 30 December 2013 04:26 PM
There are communities where a large portion of the populace is deaf.  In those where the deafness is a recessive congenital trait the use of sign language is pretty much universal, used by deaf and hearing alike.  When the deafness is a dominant trait it tends to be used only in the families with deaf members.

Can you give some examples?

A good book on the subject is Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind by Margalit Fox.  It’s about a Bedouin community in Israel with a high degree of deafness.  The deafness is recessive and the entire village knows sign.  The structure of the book is alternating chapters about the village and about sign language, and, indeed, language in general.  Fascinating book.  The one other community I remember was on Martha’s Vineyard.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Are there people who hold contrary positions to Dave’s on this issue?

Not by anyone knowledgeable about the subject, but a commonly held misconception is that sign language is simply a “transcription” of English (or whatever language is being spoken). Some even think it’s unorganized gesturing. While in fact, ASL has a distinctive grammar of its own, and even its own slang.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Read the Talking Hands book I mentioned above.  Should be in your local library.  It’s a good read.  I’m sure there are plenty more books that discuss the grammars of sign languages.  Also, sometimes sign languages will spring up out of nowhere. The first generation can be a grammar poor pidgin but once you get children of signers as native speakers the language will develop a full grammar.

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