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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Wednesday April 10, 2002
07:23 AM

Bimodal bilingualism

[ #4081 ]
Dear Log,

«...but for us, finding out that my daughter was deaf just the day after her birth was absolutely delightful because it meant I could start speaking sign language to her from the start.
The reason I was so pleased to have a deaf child was because it was - and remains - wonderful to know that there will never be a communication problem in our family. We will always understand each other in exactly the same way that a hearing family who use speech are able to understand each other. When you share the same language there is so much less stress in the home, because there is so much less potential for misunderstanding one another.»

-- "I'm happy my child is deaf", an article by a deaf mother.

I hear a lot of stuff like this from deaf people I know, and I don't get it; if you're deaf and you have a hearing kid, who says it won't learn ASL (or BSL, etc.) from you just fine? How does your kid speaking extra languages (i.e., whatever vocal languages he or she picks up) create a "communication problem"?

This all seems based on a pervasive and baseless idea that you can't learn a sign language properly unless you're stone deaf from birth.

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  • I'd think a "communication problem" between child and parent would be more likely to stem from raging hormones, the need for self-determination, and Marilyn Manson (etc.) than anything else, deaf or hearing.
  • If the child were not deaf, would it be a problem to speak to it in sign language from the start anyway? Do children have trouble picking up languages? If I stay in America and have children, would speaking to them in English and Hebrew make me a horrible parent? Maybe my future wife will speak yet another language, and we'll be ostracized for destroying our offspring's poor branes with mindless moon-language jibber jabber.

    However, it seems this would present a problem in learning vocal language (especi
    • I think a hearing kid born to an all-deaf family would just pick up vocal language(s) from playmates, etc. It takes relatively little input to get kids learning. However, yeah, they do need /some/.
    • Don't worry about it. I spent from ages 0 to 3 in Australia, speaking only English. At 3 1/2, I was brought over to France and sent to kidergarden there without any prior knowledge of the language. I nevertheless picked it up completely in 2-3 months.

      I've seen the same thing with other kids that had bilingual parents which would speak to them in two languages, and the result is always a kid that speaks both languages fluently, is able to differentiate them, and is in fact usually rather good with l


      -- Robin Berjon []

  • Some people are going that extra step to make sure their child is deaf [].

    Honestly, I figured genetic weeding wasn't going to side towards ensuring disabilities in new children. I figured they'd be pushing for the extremely strong, low-obesity-propensity, high-IQ end of things.


    You are what you think.
  • The mother has perhaps chosen her words poorly. What happens in a huge number of cases where deaf parents have hearing children is that the children get absorbed into hearing society, and leave their parents behind. This, of course, happens with all children and parents, but is markedly different with the deaf vs. hearing communities. Deaf society is smaller, just by nature of having far fewer members. There are lots of things deaf people can do, but there are way more things out there for hearing peopl
    • I see what you mean.

      But I worry that this is only one step away from any other language minority having their children modified so that they can only learn their parents' home language, and not the societal language, lest they become different from their parents.

      • but do parents have children to be different or to be a likeness of themselves? I suspect it's most often the latter. Family is your tribe and language is a major part of belonging both psychologically as well as socially.

      • I saw a story recently where deaf people were criticizing technological and medical advances to help bring hearing to the deaf, because they said there's nothing "wrong" with being deaf, it is who they are, and they shouldn't try to "fix" it. It's quite boggling.

        I think most of this stems simply from an inferiority complex so strong that these people have convinced themselves that their genetic bug is a feature. It's biological Microsoftianism!
        • I have been strongly tempted at times to infer that there is not much of a "culture of debate" among the deaf, because when I read of a deaf person expressing points on these and other issues, they often choose weaker points, instead of points less open to challenge.

          I think the strongest point against cochlear implants is that they turn you from stone deaf, to just mostly deaf -- it's still just not enough acoustic resolution that you could function without ASL.