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Language and Mind, Week 14

by: Carole Boulware

Language and Mind, Week 14 LING 275

Carole Boulware
GPA 3.3

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Language and Mind, Week 14
Language and Mind
Elsi Miia Kaiser, Rachel Walker
Class Notes
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Carole Boulware on Wednesday July 20, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to LING 275 at University of Southern California taught by Elsi Miia Kaiser, Rachel Walker in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Language and Mind in Linguistics at University of Southern California.


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Date Created: 07/20/16
LING 275 Language and Mind, Spring 2016, Kaiser/Walker Signed languages: Neurolinguistics, reading sign language, birth of sign language [Overview of April 26, 2016] Localization of spoken/auditory language in the brain  Proximity of Broca’s area to parts of motor cortex that control lips, tongue etc  Proximity of Wernicke’s area to auditory cortex  This seems to make a lot of sense from the perspective of spoken language What about signed languages?  No spoken language involved, no auditory input  Importance of visuo-spatial information Damage to Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area (in the LH) in signers causes language deficits similar to those in hearing people.  Wernicke’s = Fluent signing but incoherent message  Broca’s = Extreme difficulty producing signs, mainly manages isolated signs (not a motor control problem)  Evidence from brain imaging: The left hemisphere plays a dominant role on sign language, just like in spoken language. But on-going debate! “Contrary to all expectations, the neural organization of sign language has more in common with that of spoken language than it does with the brain organization for visuo-spatial processing.” (Hickok et al) Why? Even though inputs and outputs are different, the linguistic computations are similar Writing in Sign Language: No standardized system so far SignWriting: (from 1 Below: At Laurent Declerc Elementary School in Tuscon (AZ), students are being taught using a different system developed by Dr. Sam Supalla and his colleagues. Q: Sometimes people might wonder, why don’t signers just write in English, using the English alphabet? Why try to create a writing system for sign language? However, there is actually a very good reason for this – what is it? What sign languages can tell us about the birth of language: Nicaraguan sign language (NLS):  Deaf children raised with hearing families  First school for the deaf: 1978/1980  Failed attempts to teach lip-reading and finger-spelling  Students started to communicate with each other using home sign systems Development over time:  With each generation of users, NSL becomes more linguistically complex  Some say this is evidence of humans’ innate ability for language. PBS video clip There are also other examples of sign languages being born, e.g. Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) The human vocal tract (or hands!) + The human brain  language becomes possible 2


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