Depression: an obstacle to learning LO11276

jack hirschfeld (
Thu, 5 Dec 1996 00:23:02 -0500

Replying to LO11267 --

Thanks to Robert Ingram for an excellent description of sign languages and
their usage.

> Answer: there are natural sign languages and contrived sign languages.
>Contrived sign languages are coding systems invented (usually by hearing
>people) to communicate with deaf people.
> Fingerspelling is a type of contrived sign language, but in this case
>each handshape represents a letter of the alphabet, not a complete word.
> Most deaf people when communicating with other deaf people do not use
>these contrived sign languages (which are technically not Languages but
>glosses). Rather, they communicate in natural sign languages.

This distinction is very helpful. I do not know any sign language except
fingerspelling, but having observed a good deal of conversation with and
between deaf people, I believe I can distinguish between these two types
of signing (although I think many deaf people mix them). Contrived sign
language seems very two-dimensional. You could learn it by looking at
picture in a book, whereas the natural language seems to operate in 3-D
space, and involves the whole body, not just the hands.

In view of some of the comments I and others have made here about
knowledge and learning without words, I thought I'd add my opinion that
there seems to me to be a link between certain ways of communicating
meanings through signing and some of the movements and gestures of ritual
dance in many cultures.


Jack Hirschfeld When you are far away and I am blue, what'll I do?

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