A deaf persons internal monologue ?

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Peri

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This is a serious question - I really hope no-one finds it offensive.

Yesterday, I was chatting to a small group of young adult students about languages. One of the lads was a Polish guy who speaks excellent English.

I said "When I started to learn French many, many years ago, my teacher told me that I'd know when I mastered the language because I'd 'think' in French"

I asked the Polish lad if he 'thought' in English, or did he translate in his head? He said that about 90% of his thinking was in English now, but some phrases and concepts just didn't have easy English alternatives.

At which point one of my quieter kids came up with "I've always wondered, if a person is deaf from birth, do they 'think in sign language?' "

It's a question I couldn't even begin to answer.
I don't think it's sign language, but it did get me wondering. Without ever hearing the sounds it must be very difficult to have an 'internal monologue' that I'd recognize - but I know many people born deaf have no trouble reading............. I really have no idea.

I told the student I'd try and find an answer, so I wondered if anyone could help shed some light?

Thanks folks :)
 

Phill05

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No one should find it offensive to ask a question.

I think it all comes down to learning how, I am not deaf but my wife is totally blind she is a chess player and plays with people all over the world and there are some players that are blind / deaf in the groups she plays, so someone has to show them how to play, how to converse with other people.

And as an aside once a sense is lost other things come into play so a deaf person must have a heightened sense of visual, my wife has heightened touch and sound. "she know where I am and what I am doing before I do it"

There is a lot of tech out there now to help, one D/B girl she plays has a computer that give a little vibration when a move has been made, so she has learnt to feel for the different tones, how she interprets that in her brain I don't know, I would not know how to find that out.
 

Fitzroy

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Such an interesting question I had to Google it, article below. Didn’t investigate the provenance nor evidence for the article so no idea how much of it is based on sound research.
 

imageel

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It is a very interesting subject, the fact is AFAIK that we are all wired differently, quite whether this occurs at birth or is learnt is unclear, however there are numerous studies that demonstrate that even people with similar skills/professions use their brains in entirely different ways to e.g. problem solve etc.
This recent BBC series touches on this subject and is worth a listen -
BBC Radio 4 - The Senses - Episode guide
 

chaoticbob

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I've often wondered about this stuff myself, and (purely by introspection) came to think that that much of our 'internal monologue' is actually sub-verbal - it's only at the point when we need to articulate a concept that it gets mapped to language. So I don't use linguistic structures to build concepts, just to express them once formed. Except in special cases such as punning of rhyming for example where there is a sort of to-and-fro between conceptual and linguistic 'thinking'. I think.
While writing the above I thought 'I bet Noam Chomsky would have something to say about this' (well, that's not what I actually 'thought'!) and a quick search led to this talk - he even has a signer interpreting and asks him if signers talk to themselves in sign language.
Bob.
 

PhilipL

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I've often wondered about this stuff myself, and (purely by introspection) came to think that that much of our 'internal monologue' is actually sub-verbal - it's only at the point when we need to articulate a concept that it gets mapped to language. So I don't use linguistic structures to build concepts, just to express them once formed. Except in special cases such as punning of rhyming for example where there is a sort of to-and-fro between conceptual and linguistic 'thinking'. I think.
While writing the above I thought 'I bet Noam Chomsky would have something to say about this' (well, that's not what I actually 'thought'!) and a quick search led to this talk - he even has a signer interpreting and asks him if signers talk to themselves in sign language.
Bob.
Chomsky is old hat. No one believes in Syntactic Structures anymore surely? That was an idea that the brain has an internal grammar which underlies all languages. I looked at it back in the 1980s (the AI community were interested in rule based systems) but haven't heard of it since then.

He's known more as a radical now.
 

DRC

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It is a very interesting subject, the fact is AFAIK that we are all wired differently, quite whether this occurs at birth or is learnt is unclear, however there are numerous studies that demonstrate that even people with similar skills/professions use their brains in entirely different ways to e.g. problem solve etc.
This recent BBC series touches on this subject and is worth a listen -
BBC Radio 4 - The Senses - Episode guide
I'm really beginning to hate acronyms there are so many that are used that can cover more than one or two or even more different things. What on earth is AFAIK I ask?
 

tibi

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I'm really beginning to hate acronyms there are so many that are used that can cover more than one or two or even more different things. What on earth is AFAIK I ask?
I would assume, it is as far as I know. But I hate 'em too :)
 

MichaelChou

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I’ve a friend who lectures I linguistics, I asked him and he said that language is just as much a way of thinking as it is a way of communicating. The conversation went into, if I hear my own voice as an internal monologue, then do deaf users of sign language see their own hands?!?!? This is a great subject. Thank for posting. My friend will ask someone in linguistics with lived experience, I’m happy to report back if anyone else is interested.
 

Peri

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I’ve a friend who lectures I linguistics, I asked him and he said that language is just as much a way of thinking as it is a way of communicating. The conversation went into, if I hear my own voice as an internal monologue, then do deaf users of sign language see their own hands?!?!? This is a great subject. Thank for posting. My friend will ask someone in linguistics with lived experience, I’m happy to report back if anyone else is interested.

I asked the question in the OP elsewhere, I'm going to post one of the replies (I hope the person won't mind) - you or your friend may find it interesting.
(The xxxxxxx is mine)

My niece was born severely profoundly deaf.
My niece is now head of maths at Royal School For The Deaf at XXXXXX

She has written a reply that she has approved that I can copy and paste into this thread. Here it is. I hope this is helpful both for you and for your student.

Every Deaf person is different. It depends on the Deaf person's upbringing. Mum and I communicated through pictures, actions, speech until I was 5 then started using sign language as well since. Sometimes I think in sign language sometimes I think in spoken language, but since I left uni I think more in sign language. Mainly cos I use sign language every day in my family and in my job. If I give a presentation I will do it in sign language as I am more confident in sign language than in my speech. In my dreams I use sign language! Some of my friends who use sign language from birth will think in sign language. Others who were born with communicating in speech will think in speech, but some of them learn to use sign language at a later age, they sometimes start to think in sign language, but it depends on the Deaf person. My husband thinks differently from me cos he started learning sign language at 16. Also he works in a hearing environment where he uses his speech most of the time. Whereas myself I work in a deaf school so I use sign language all the time.
 

MikeJhn

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Very very interesting thread, thanks for posting, I am dyslectic and rely on the spell checker, but recognising where the mistake is and what I have to add or subtract from a word can be difficult, who is going to be SA that says that explains my previous threads, tried to put in an emoji, but did not work.
 

MichaelChou

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I asked the question in the OP elsewhere, I'm going to post one of the replies (I hope the person won't mind) - you or your friend may find it interesting.
(The xxxxxxx is mine)
Really interesting, could you ask her if she sees her own hands or someone else’s?
 

Peri

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This is a fantastic question and has got my wife and i thinking what ,where ,why ,when keep the thread going we will follow avidly
It got us all in the staffroom thinking to when I asked the question. We veered off into 'Do blind from birth' people dream in pictures? through 'Do we all see colours the same? Maybe if I looked through your eyes the sky would be purple and the grass blue', and into synesthesia (People who “see” or associate letters and numbers with specific colours).
 

Mrs C

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So over the last couple of days I have tried thinking in language, but get bored waiting for myself to get to the end of a sentence. Am I missing something?
 

Sirenity

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And your student may be interested to know that a significant % of people have no inner monologue at all... Not Everyone Conducts Inner Speech
I had an ex like this - I always assumed they were just being coy about what they were thinking, but once I learned about this - I think I was wrong and they genuinely were not thinking about anything when they said "Nothing" in answer to my "penny for your thoughts" question.
 
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