We all think in our mother language, or the languages we speak, according to the circumstances. It is a spontaneous thing that we often tend to take no notice of. But what about the hearing-impaired people? In which language do the deaf think?
Scientists consider deafness to be much more serious than blindness. It is because we need some language to drive our thoughts and actions. One with no language training in childhood is likely to grow to be mentally impaired as well, even though their brains have no defects. A person needs some kind of inner language to make sense of things and compare the mental states. Otherwise, the things will continue to be too abstract to decipher.
According to various researches, the thinking process varies from deaf to deaf, according to their disability and training. It is widely accepted that humans can’t think without any form of language, at least at a common level. But there had been humans long before the evolution of languages. The first language to born was also the universal one, the sign language. The ancient people communicated through signs, and before that they should have had to think it to themselves. This must have been signs and symbols. Later sounds evolved and from then on the languages.
The widely accepted explanation is that the deaf think in sign language, assuming they have learned it in childhood. The people who are born deaf but have some vocal training can think sometimes in the language they have learned. But primarily, they think in sign language they have learned. We all hear some kind of inner voice when think something. Similar to that, the deaf people feel them signing in their heads when they think. Whereas we hear the sounds in our heads, they would see the signs. It is easy to pick up sign language, and people with enough practice in it can easily communicate with it just like the normal speakers do with languages. Research has found out that the brain of those who use sign language is differently set up from those who speak oral languages.
The most common of sign languages is the American Sign Language (ASL). There is a lot of debates going on over this subject, many proposing to teach the deaf only the spoken language. But scientists conclude that the deaf people who know only spoken language are far behind in comprehension than those who know sign language. Hence, a bilingual system has been practiced, where the hearing-impaired people learn a spoken language and the sign language.
You might also like: