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i hate when my kids make me think

Natalie has found her calling in life.

She has been taking ASL (American Sign Language) for two years now and yesterday she announced that she will be continuing those studies for the rest of her school career and would like to eventually secure a job working with deaf children.

I'm taking her seriously this time, as opposed to her other dreams of playing in the WNBA or being the shopping cart attendant at Target.

Natalie asks a million question about the hearing impaired, all of which her ASL teacher gladly answers. Today, however, she had a question for me .

Mom, can a deaf person hear the voices in his head?

She was serious. She doesn't mean voices as in "the dog is telling you to kill your neighbor," she means your inner narrator, the voice that comes when you are reading to yourself or making choices in your head or cursing your boss silently.

I had no answer, but I have to tell you, it's been bugging me all day.

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This will also drive me crazy. Ask Natalie to ask a deaf person...

Someone tried to explain the difference to me as this: We think in words while deaf people think in concepts. (I don't quite get the distinction, but it's there.) Sorta like the difference between Signed Exact English (you sign every word you say, used by most hearing people) and ASL, in which one sign can convey a concept that would take several sentences to express verbally.

Interesting tidbit....signing without facial expressions is the equivalent of speaking in a monotone...and just as boring.

Interpreting is a fascinating field, hope she sticks with it.

Do blind drunks see pink elephants?

I have been reading a lot about autism lately and there was one autobiography I read where the author (who is autistic and has a college degree.) says she thinks in pictures rather than words. I wonder if it's the same for the deaf? It would be interesting to find out.

On a similar note, I have a blind relative who went completely blind when he was ten years old due to an auto accident and he says that he doesn't see any color. Not black, not white, He just sees nothing. You would think he would at least see black, but he swears he doesn't see ANY color, He can't describe it effectively for me. He just says he sees nothingness. Which is meaningless to me since I'm not blind.

michele, have her or you get in touch with lillyanne at http://fallenspirits.com/mt/. she is deaf and has no problem answering questions. she is going through a rough time right now but she will answser you.

I heard that people that are deaf or blind dream and think what they know. [Like a blind person won't dream in colors or images, if they never saw them.]
I mean, do you really hear your inner self? What if you just sense it? What if it's just there.. Weird. Now you've got me talking like I'm freakin' stoned or something. I can't make any sense. I'm getting out of this topic. If you get an answer, let us know! .....my head hurts.

As a former interpreter myself, I think I can shed some light on this.

I dated a deaf girl for quite some time. She had lost her hearing at around a year and therefore always understood the concept of sound. She said she would have dreams in which no one signed, but she knew what they were saying. Because she couldn't recognize any sound even if she heard it, it wasn't possible to determine if she was "hearing words", but she knew what it was.

About the inner monologue, it's a concept thing. I think in concepts a lot because I tend to get in arguments with the voices.

Sometimes I miss working with the hearing impaired (ALL of my friends always referred to themselves as deaf. PC didn't play well with them). I don't miss the nasty looks I used to get when talking to my friends in public, but I miss the great feeling I used to get just being able to brighten someone's day with conversation.

I was born profoundly deaf and wear two hearing aids. Yes, when I am reading or have my hearing aids off, I do hear a voice in my head when the other person is speaking. It sounds real. If it's a man, it's a deep voice. If it's someone I know, the voice is similar as I know it. When I am reading or thinking... I do hear a voice as I gather information. Hope this helps.

I'm in sort of a similar situation to meryl. I'm not deaf, and started losing my hearing at 8, but I'm profoundly hard of hearing now. I can hear thisclose to nothing with my hearing aids off. In my particular case, I sort of supply a voice to a person that I can't hear.

Oddly, whenever I have the closed captioning on my TV, I don't perceive it as reading text. I perceive it as hearing what the people onscreen are saying; sometimes I even forget I'm not "really hearing" anything at all.

Oh, and I don't know ASL at all. I probably ought to learn, but... too lazy and preoccupied with other things.

Robb, you cracked me up!

ASL is a beautiful language; I took it in college. It has much more intrinsic humor than any of the Romance languages I know and, because it relies so heavily on facial exporession and 'body language,' (un-intended, dam!) it is much more immediate and alive than simple spoken languages.

After using it for stretches of time, I began to think in shapes and gestures. Like mental facial expressions.

Some 25 years ago I suffered some bit-more-than-minor brain damage due to encephalo-meningitis. My speech centres were damaged, so I often knew the concept I was looking for, but the link to the word was missing. (when it's a word like "fungible", no problem, when it's a word like "if" or "the" or "and"... it's quite annoying and inconvenient).
It's entirely possible to think in symbols without words. You can have an internal narrator who speaks (or rather communicates) without sound or gesture. BTW I still have the problem, just not as bad as I used to, alternate neural pathways were found, created or learnt.

Michele, your daughter never ceases to amaze me. You've got one smart cookie on your hands.

I only suffer from selective hearing.

Sign Language is utterly beautiful. In ASL, you can make the exact same signs and the look on your face can change the meaning.

If you sign "I like you" while smiling, it means you like me. If you sign "I like you" while scowling, it adds the negative value. Sign very far in front of you, you're now talking future tense.

I was more Signed Exact English (SEE) since I did interpreting. I tried to get what the person said verbatim.

Here's a funny story.

I was signing for a basketball coach one time since one of his players was deaf. He was angry because she wasn't in the correct position and he had already told her several times to get it right. When she screwed up again, he was livid and yelling. I was doing a fantastic job of conveying his emotion, but since she was looking at me and not at him, it made him more angry.

He was so mad he jumped in the middle of us so she could see how mad he was and continued to yell at her. He finally said "Do you hear me? Do you....NO! You Dont!" And walked away, quite embarrassed.

I had to pick myself (as well as the rest of the team) off the floor.

In my own mind I've noticed a difference between thinking in words, thinking in concepts and thinking in images.

My own mind is less unitary than most - there have been times when a verbal part of my mind was arguing with a visual part - and disagreeing.

Just another 'terp weighing in on a subject very close to my heart.

After a long stretch of interpreting, or after a conference with Deaf people, when I've been signing almost exclusively, the way I think really does change. If I then go home or somewhere with hearing people I have a really hard time getting the right words out. The idea, the concept, is in my head, but it won't connect with the English words. (The ASL is still connecting, but that doesn't help when you're with hearing people!)

I would imagine that for Deaf people (I don't know for sure, I've never thought to ask that question) it's similar to that "what is the word?" feeling, but without the frustration. You KNOW the idea, and don't need the word because the idea, the concept is there.

It's just different!