forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Therese Shellabarger
Date:  Thu Oct 7, 1999  2:40 am
Subject:  Re: SW-L Digest - 5 Oct 1999 to 6 Oct 1999


At 12:00 PM 10/6/1999 -0400, you wrote:
>Date: Wed, 6 Oct 1999 10:02:04 -0400
>From: "Angus B. Grieve-Smith"
>Subject: Re: Sandinistas
>On Tue, 5 Oct 1999, Joe Martin wrote:
>> In the US, signing was forbidden and actively suppressed for
>> generations, yet the the same language creation process took place In
>> Spite Of a well-enforced, longlasting policy of active repression.
>> US educational policy did bring deaf people together, though, so by
>> your reasoning we would have to credit US educational policy for the
>> creation of ASL.
>
> You're misinterpreting my claim. Of course, the intent of US
>educational policy was the opposite of its effect. That doesn't mean that
>it didn't have an effect. It might have succeeded in wiping out Deaf
>culture and ASL if, instead of concentrated indoctrination in residential
>schools, it had isolated Deaf kids from each other and restricted their
>peer groups to hearing kids. You could call it "mainstreaming."

<snip>

> My main issue is with the claim that signed languages have existed
>throughout time. I do in fact like the idea that Sherman Wilcox and
>others have proposed that the first languages may have been gestural. But
>in order for there to have been an unbroken chain of signed languages from
>then to now, there would have to have been a critical-mass population of
>Deaf people existing for tens of thousands of years. Remember that we
>don't have any evidence for towns of more than a hundred thousand until
>relatively recently.

Yes, but medical care being what it used to be, and not having hearing aids
back then, the numbers of people with hearing loss could have been greater,
and the people who were considered "deaf" would have included many that
today we call hard of hearing.

I think there was probably language, but I suspect there wasn't as much of
what we call "Deaf culture", at least not in ancient and medieval Europe.
I'm not sure of other areas.

I've read that there was signing in classical Greece. There have been
scattered hints here and there of other places, and that signing as we know
it today may have started with certain monasteries. Those would also be
logical refuges for Deaf people fleeing persecution.

--
Therese Shellabarger -
http://www.concentric.net/~tlshell/ Shalom chaverot!

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