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Posted June 17, 2011
A new appreciation for the deaf and the sign language
Most of the information that we get about the world comes through the sense of sight. Therefore it would seem that it there is one sense that we would be loath to part with, it would be this one. And yet, it is the sense of hearing that has the greatest impact on the acquisition of language and subsequently on the formation of our minds. If we don't acquire language really early on in our lives, we are bound to lead a very limited existence as compared to most other people. It is these facts and some other very deep and important ones that I was able to gather from this Oliver Sacks book. It really opened my mind to the world of deaf people in a profoundly different way. Sacks documents various attempts over the last few centuries to give deaf people a chance to acquire a sign language, and different approaches to the education of the deaf. The book also opened my eyes to the fact that the sign language is a real language, qualitatively and profoundly different from simple gesticulations and gestures that we engage on a daily basis in our regular communications. In fact, the sign language is in one sense much more complex than the regular spoken language. One can argue that the spoken language is one-dimensional - it consists of sounds of different pitch and duration in time. On the other hand, the sign language is four-dimensional - it employs all three dimensions of space to create various hand configurations and adds an extra layer in the form of motion.
One of the greatest features of Olives Sacks' writing is the highly sophisticated and literary style that he employs. I would love reading his books even if he were describing the content of a box of cereal. We are fortunate that his writing brilliance is matched with the vast knowledge and expertise that he has in neuroscience. It is this incredible combination of writing and scientific talent that makes each of his books a masterpiece.
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Posted August 6, 2013
Posted October 20, 2013
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