A world of gestures

I followed @RealMindBlowing in Twitter and got to read some interesting tweets. I commenced retweeting and sharing 2 of their tweets. One is a query about what language do people born deaf think in? Hmmm.

One of my Facebook friends replied to this post with a seemingly obvious statement: “Probably the same language he reads in.” Duh. But then another question suddenly hit me, “Having never heard English words, can a person born deaf actually read English and be able to understand it?”

In comes the internet, ta-dah! I learnt that in some special cases, thru very meticulous and rigorous training, a deaf person can actually read and understand English, or any language for that matter. However, I also learnt that most people born deaf learn a very intricate language that is considered different from any other language and that is sign language (I am not saying I am an expert on these, I just read it from the internet!). From http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2486/in-what-language-do-deaf-people-think I learned that Sign is actually “an independent natural language, evolved by ordinary people and transmitted culturally from one generation to the next” and that the language they learn is more “gestural rather than verbal”. Ah-ha. And as http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/07/how-deaf-people-think/ state that “those who were born completely deaf and only learned sign language will, not surprisingly, think in sign language” although “those who were born completely deaf but learn to speak through vocal training…  will sometimes think in the vocal language they learned…” , second ah-ha.

Having read these and applying it to my friend’s reply, then his statement isn’t entirely correct. Seeing that most people born deaf learn sign language as their primary language and any other vocal language after that is entirely optional then a deaf person doesn’t really think in the language he reads with, not unless looking at the detailed diagrams of sign language counts as reading in itself (per se).

For the record, me and my friend have resolved this matter between ourselves and have straightened things out. He has rephrased his statement and in the process has given me some more facts about deaf people and sign. Peace ;).


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