What Language Do Deaf People Think In?
The question “what language do deaf people think in?”
is one that many people ask when they first meet someone with hearing loss.
Some may even wonder if it’s not just a matter of asking them to repeat back words or phrases, but then again why bother doing such a thing?
After all, there are so many different ways of speaking and writing that it might seem like you’re going through the motions.
It is true that some people do struggle with these questions at times, but others have no problem answering them. One of those individuals is John Travolta (born June 11, 1942), actor and singer best known for his roles in films such as A Star Is Born (1946) and On Golden Pond (1970). When asked during an interview whether he thought in American Sign Language or English, he replied: “I don’t.”
“I don’t,” he added. “And I’m very happy about that because I really feel that my life is better off without having to think in any particular language. I’m glad I sort of slipped through the cracks and it wasn’t ever really forced on me because there are so many people that do have to think in that language. It’s just nice to have that option, because it really is a crutch.
I don’t have that crutch to lean on.”
Then, in an example of moving from the general to the specific, he added: “I think it’s very important for the parents of a deaf child to be positive with them. With my son, I signed with him a lot because I wanted him to feel like he could communicate with me.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sign language as cognition for deaf people: Pitfalls and prospects by JG Kyle – Applied cognitive psychology, 1989 – Wiley Online Library
Bilingualism and the education of deaf children by S Gregory – … and the Education of Deaf Children: Advances in …, 1996 – bris.ac.uk
The resilience of language: What gesture creation in deaf children can tell us about how all children learn language by S Goldin-Meadow – 2005 – books.google.com