Date: Tue Jun 27, 2000 1:29
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: SignWriting can inspire speech....
June 27, 2000
Good morning SignWriting List members, and Stefan!
I want to thank you, Stefan, for your excellent discussion of lip
reading, and how difficult it is for Deaf students in Germany to lip
read the German spoken language. For many of us, this comes as no
surprise. But you explained it beautifully, and I am glad you took
the time to explain it to us.
For all of those on the SW List who may not remember this exchange,
first Nancy Cole wrote this:
"But I'm curious...is German easier to learn lip reading than English?"
And then Stefan answered with this explanation:
"Is it possible at all?"
and he then continued....
"HHmmm ? I´m afraid that many people wouldn´t think so. I guess that
the Linguists should be able to offer any kind of structure to
discuss the question of "hard to learn languages" As it looks like -
German seems to be one of these languages for many deaf students
because of the gender and the grammar. For somebody who is familiar
with a language it is quite impossible to figure out, how complicated
it can be!! But here we are again with SW. Writing down the sign for
"I " it is possible to use is in the first case (Nominativ) = Ich,
third case (Dativ) = mir and fourth case (Akkusativ) = mich It
depends on the verb, it depends on the whole sentence. When the
students of the 7 th grade realized the first time that a special
"movement-writing" ;-) SW-Gestalt could be translated in several
ways but has to be checked first ... wow that has been a litte
breakthrough !!! And it seems so confusing that you have to combine
several verbs with the Dativ and others with the Akkusativ. Same
thing happens if you try to report about past events - haben oder
sein ? And compared to SL there are so many substantial differences
.. The longer I teach German to deaf students the more I get a
feeling for their achievements if they become skilled to formulate
more and more sentences without too much trouble."
What an excellent statement, Stefan!
In regards to lip reading, I would like to share my own little story...
When people ask me why not lip read? I ask them to try to imagine
being born in a glass cage...you cannot hear anything...the world is
silent, but you can see everything.
Because you live in a silent world, you have never heard the Japanese
spoken language. Then a Japanese person stands outside your glass
cage and starts to speak Japanese. But you cannot hear him. Nor do
you know Japanese. So lip reading his lips is impossible, since you
do not know Japanese in advance. Lip reading is based on the idea
that you already know the language you are lip reading. Deaf students
do not automatically know the spoken language of their country, since
they have never heard it. So we are asking them to lip read a
language they do not know.
Obviously that is pretty unfair. No hearing person can automatically
lip read languages they do not know.
And German is a complicated language. It has a complex and
sophisticated verb structure...so I can imagine it must be a mystery
to many Deaf students.
Footnote: I received a private message from someone who had never
seen SignWriting before, and had just joined the SW List. They wrote
to ask me if SignWriting had something to do with lip reading?, since
that was what we are discussing? The answer is "no". SignWriting has
no connection to lip reading ;-)
SignWriting is a way to read and write any signed language.
But thanks for asking and keep asking....All your questions are
important to me!