forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Joe Martin
Date:  Wed Feb 10, 1999  7:11 pm
Subject:  Re: Children Learning SignWriting

This is something linguists in general haven't figured out yet, but..
David McNeil, at the U of Chicago, has done a lot of work showing that
gesture (not Signing) is linked biologically to the use of language.
Susan Goldin-Meadow also , has tracked the development of those gestures
into a proto-linguistic system, which is the basis of home signs. In the
case of non-hearing children this system evolves straight into Signing.
All this happens prior to the onset of speech. (Speaking requires more
physiological development, for one thing, and comes later) Given the
transparent nature of the signwriiting symbols, it seems logical that kids
could copy them using the same set of cognitive skills they have used to
copy actual physical gestures; eliminating the complex job of matching the
language with highly abstract written squiggles.
So it seems likely that kids could learn to read much earlier.


> Motor skills may be one reason, Jean, but I think there may be other
> reasons added to it.
> For example, speech is strangely "non-visual" and maybe it takes longer for
> the brain to develop connecting sounds with language. But watching Mommie
> sign is a "visual experience". So repeating what Mommie says in a signed
> language my be easier because the eyes and the "visual connection" to
> language may develop faster. I have no idea if this true myself! I am just
> sharing an idea and asking questions...
> I am wondering if the visual nature of SignWriting will speed reading
> skills, who knows?...
> Valerie ':-)
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Valerie Sutton at the DAC
> Deaf Action Committee for SW
> SignWriting
> Center For Sutton Movement Writing
> an educational nonprofit organization
> Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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