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Signing And Speaking Ch. 5
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Signing And Speaking Ch. 5


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  • 1. Signing and Speaking William C. Stokoe Competitors, Alternatives, or Incompatibles? Jacqueline Hurst
  • 2. Introduction
    • Language origins – we should not assume that language was only spoken and heard
    • Sign languages are true languages
    • Different cultures use a combination of signed and spoken language
    • Language is necessary for humanity but the crucial feature is not vocal
  • 3. What are Neanderthals?
    • An extinct human species or subspecies
    • (Homo neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens neanderthalensis)
    • They lived during the late Pleistocene Epoch throughout most of Europe and parts of Asia and northern Africa and are associated with Middle Paleolithic tools
  • 4. Neanderthal Culture
    • Evidence shows that they buried their dead and put artifacts into their graves
    • Implies a culture that includes some notions of life after death
  • 5. Lieberman (1972, 1975)
    • Suggested that Neanderthals lacked the physiology for speech
    • But still possessed a fully human culture complete with language
    • … How is this possible?
  • 6. Opponents of Lieberman:
    • Evidence of Neanderthal culture implies a human culture
    • Such a culture requires language
    • Therefore Neanderthal man could speak and understand
    • Lieberman’s conclusions must be false
  • 7. But It Is Possible!
    • Neanderthals had other human attributes like bipedalism, human hands with unpongid thumb placement, convergent binocular vision, and human faces
    • Spoken language is not the only form of human language
  • 8. Other Ways of Communicating
    • Facial expressions – thanks to binocular vision
    • Body language
    • Hand gestures – thanks to bipedalism, hand are free
  • 9. Sign Language of Aboriginal Australia (1988)
    • Adam Kendon
    • Primary sign languages
    • Alternate sign languages
    • Shows that signing and speaking are not incompatible
  • 10. Primary Sign Language
    • Used mostly by persons whose hearing acuity makes it impossible for them to acquire true spoken language competence
  • 11. Alternate Sign Language
    • Use is determined by culture instead of physical necessity
    • Can be used as speech is used, for normal conversation
  • 12. Examples
    • Australian Aborigines
      • Requires signing to be substituted for speaking under certain circumstances.
  • 13.
    • Warramungu/Walpari women
    • Signing is the preferred form of communication for prolonged conversations
  • 14.
    • Yucatans
      • Communicate with hearing and deaf fluently in sign language
      • Teenagers use both sign and speak in everyday discourse
  • 15. Conclusion
    • Signing and speaking are and always were compatible
    • To assume vocal language is ethnocentric
    • Signing is more likely than speaking to have been the means by which language was first transmitted and acquired