Sign Language Holds the Key for Scientists

In most communities in the world, there is an established sign language just as there is an established spoken language. So when a person is born deaf or becomes deaf, there is an established sign language there for the learning. However, when deafness occurs in a very small, isolated village where there is no established sign language, they do what humans do–improvise–and a new language is born.

Scientists have long wondered how humans create a new language, but the assumption has been that the answer was long ago lost in our prehistory. Now they’ve realized that they can study the process in present day through these newly created sign languages, some of which are only two or three generations old.  And what they’re finding challenges long-held assumptions about what is universal in human language.

These are just a few tidbits culled from a fascinating article called, “The Discovery of a New Language Can Help Explain How We Communicate”.  Check it out.


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