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The Resilience of Language

What Gesture Creation in Deaf Children Can Tell Us About How All Children Learn Language

By Susan Goldin-Meadow

Psychology Press – 2005 – 288 pages

Series: Essays in Developmental Psychology

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $49.95
    978-1-84169-436-8
    April 5th 2005
  • Add to CartHardback: $115.00
    978-1-84169-026-1
    April 11th 2003

Description

Imagine a child who has never seen or heard any language at all. Would such a child be able to invent a language on her own? Despite what one might guess, the children described in this book make it clear that the answer to this question is 'yes'. The children are congenitally deaf and cannot learn the spoken language that surrounds them. In addition, they have not yet been exposed to sign language, either by their hearing parents or their oral schools. Nevertheless, the children use their hands to communicate - they gesture - and those gestures take on many of the forms and functions of language. The properties of language that we find in the deaf children's gestures are just those properties that do not need to be handed down from generation to generation, but can be reinvented by a child de novo - the resilient properties of language. This book suggests that all children, deaf or hearing, come to language-learning ready to develop precisely these language properties. In this way, studies of gesture creation in deaf children can show us the way that children themselves have a large hand in shaping how language is learned.

Reviews

'This book is interesting, well written and easy to read. I recommend it highly to all students and researchers who are interested in gesture.' - Sandra Smith, Deafness & Educational International

'The data described…inform the study of language acquisistion generally, as well as contributing immensely to the understanding of language and communication in exceptional circumstances. … It will appeal to those with an interest in language development or with a specific interest in communication and hearing impairment. it would also complement the core texts for any course on language development, and its accessible style should appeal to a wide readership.' - Dr Fiona Lyddy, in The Irish Psychologist, May 2006.

Related Subjects

  1. Psychological Science

Video Clips

Imagine a child who has never seen or heard any language at all. Would such a child be able to invent a language on her own? Despite what one might guess, the children described in this book make it clear that the answer to this question is 'yes'

All the video clips available for download are in mpeg format. Some of the files are large and may take some time to download if you are on a dial-up connection, please be patient.

Please read our copyright notice before copying any files for personal use.

Page 59: Shovels
MPEG format (9MB) | Quick Time format (2MB)
Combining gestures into sentences to talk about shovels.

Page 73: Dad-Sleep
MPEG format (1.4MB)
Pointing at a chair in the room to indicate dad who is sleeping in another room (Figure 1 in book).

Page 75: Break
MPEG format (1.8MB)
An emblem meaning "break" (Figure 2A in book).

Page 75: Give
MPEG format (0.8MB)
An emblem meaning "give" (Figure 2B in book).

Page 77: Flutter-Fall
MPEG format (1MB)
Communicating about manner (snow flutters) and path (snow falls) in two separate gestures (Figure 3 in book).

Page 79: Headshakes and Nods
MPEG format (1.5MB)
Incorporating headshakes and headnods into a gesture sentence to negate ("Lisa is not eating") and affirm ("but I am eating").

Page 79: Wait
MPEG format (1.7MB)
A modulating gesture "wait" used to signal the immediate future (Figure 4A in book).

Page 81: Away
MPEG format (2MB)
A modulating gesture "away" used to signal displacement in time and space (Figure 4B in book).

Page 81: Away Embedded
MPEG format (2.6MB)
The "away" gesure embedded in a string of gestures describing an event displaced in time and space (Figure 4B in book).

Page 83: Round-Put Down
MPEG format (7MB) | Quick Time format (0.8MB)
Breaking one gesture (an O handshape incorporated into a SHORT ARC motion) into two gestures: (1) an O handshape (with NO motion) followed by (2) a SHORT ARC motion (made with a PALM handshape).

Pages 85 and 92: To and Fro + Fist
MPEG format (0.8MB)
Using a TO&FRO motion with a FIST handshape to mean "move knife" (Figure 5A in book).

Pages 85 and 92: To and Fro + Palm
MPEG format (1.3MB)
Using a TO&FRO motion with a PALM handshape to mean "knife moves" (Figure 5B in book).

Page 92: Fist + Linear Path
MPEG format (1.1MB)
Using a FIST handshape with a LINEAR PATH motion to mean "move a long, skinny object forward" (Figure 6A in book).

Page 92: Fist + Circle
MPEG format (1MB)
Using a FIST handshape with a CIRCLE motion to mean "move a long, skinny object in a circle" (Figure 6B in book).

Page 108: Snack-Eat-Susan
MPEG format (1.5MB)
Combining gestures into sentences in a particular order: Snack-Eat-Susan (Patient-Act-Actor) (Figure 11 in book).

Page 144: Rabbit Story
MPEG format (7MB)
| Quick Time format (1.5MB)
Using gestures to tell a story about a rabbit escaping from its cage and finding something to eat.

Page 148: Talking to Self
MPEG format (2MB)
Using gesture to ask oneself where an object is.

Copyright Information

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Name: The Resilience of Language: What Gesture Creation in Deaf Children Can Tell Us About How All Children Learn Language (Paperback)Psychology Press 
Description: By Susan Goldin-Meadow. Imagine a child who has never seen or heard any language at all. Would such a child be able to invent a language on her own? Despite what one might guess, the children described in this book make it clear that the answer to this question is...
Categories: Psychological Science