Re: Nicaraguan Sign Language

Gerold Firl (
2 Jan 1997 20:41:55 GMT

In article <>, John Carroll <> writes:
|> According to a 1994 issue of Discover (August, I believe), deaf children
|> with no history of using any form of sign language other than the
|> gestures each used at home to communicate with relatives, were brought
|> together following the 1979 revolution in their own school, where all
|> the children were deaf. Apparently they managed to develop their own
|> sign language that eventually became very sophisticated. The article
|> treats this as the birth of a new language. Sounds fascinating, but so
|> far I haven't been able to find out anything more about it. Anybody know
|> of any references? Internet would be great, but I'll settle for
|> anything.

You might take a look at _the language instinct_ by steven pinker. The
interesting thing about this incident was the fact that when deaf
children exclusively speak sign language with other signing-only
children (well, *exclusively* is probably an overstatement - when sign
language is used as the primary language, let's say) then within one
generation the children will develop grammatical constructions in
common with natural spoken languages. It's a great example of how the
innate language hardware in the brain shapes the form of the
linguistic software.

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf