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Nicaraguan Sign Language-- A language created entirely by kids.

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posted on Sep, 19 2016 @ 08:56 PM
The following information is not new, but also not widely known, and I thought I'd share with the ATS community. Linguists discovered a fascinating case study in the field of language acquisition at a school for deaf children in Nicaragua, which has added new insight into the nature vs. nurture language debate.

Due in part to the brutal Somoza dictatorship, and the subsequent Nicaraguan Revolution, there was no unified deaf community or language in Nicaragua prior to the late 1970s. Deaf children were mostly taught at home, and had developed crude language in order to communicate with friends and family. Upon the establishment of a school for the deaf in 1977, and a larger institute founded in 1980, deaf children were finally given the opportunity to learn a unified mode of communication.

To the teachers amazement, the children were soon communicating amongst themselves in ways that the instructors couldn't understand. They contacted a team of linguists who found that the younger children had taken the crude signs of the adolescent students and formed a complex language that comprises Nicaraguan Sign Language as it is known today. Interestingly enough, researchers found that the ability to invent a new manifold language subsided as the children grew older!

Read more about it here:

and Wiki:

I find this story to be pretty astonishing. The signs that these children invented were rich and creative and give a lovely glimpse into a child's mind. For example, the sign for New York is taking an index finger and placing it on one side, the middle and the other side of one's head, while the other hand holds an invisible torch. So clever! What do you guys think?
edit on 19-9-2016 by zosimov because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 19 2016 @ 10:50 PM
I find it pretty accurate. Young minds especially are open to both learning and creating languages. These young minds had a needs gap that needed filling and others willing to work with them (the other kids) to fill it, thus they created a language based out of necessity.

posted on Sep, 19 2016 @ 11:04 PM
a reply to: JDeLattre89

Hey, thanks for your input! I agree that there was a need, and where there's a will, there's a way.

I suppose what I find so remarkable is that rather than coming up with the types of pidgen-speak that the elder kids had developed, the younger children's language was, according to Kegl-- an MIT linguist who studied the speech, as complete and rich as any human language known to date!

But it's true that children are capable of remarkable things. It makes one wonder how the first languages developed?

posted on Jan, 31 2017 @ 09:31 AM
a reply to: zosimov

This reminds me of when I was a passenger on the motorcycle at the front of the group. Ahead of us there was a house being moved. Yes, a house. The power lines were being held aloft by guys in cherrypickers -- the house was moving slowly.

One of the lead riders' 'jobs' is to let the rest of the 'pack' know if there's something up ahead to be cautious for. Like sign language that means "cop" or "deer" or something similar.

I held both arms over my head and touched my fingertips together like a roofline. And everyone knew what it meant!!!


posted on Jan, 31 2017 @ 09:41 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

Nice one!!
It's true that gestures can convey so much-- I teach English to non-native speakers and am sure I'd laugh hard at pics or video of some of the contortions I pull in order to communicate

Thanks so much for reading/commenting!

posted on Jan, 31 2017 @ 09:44 AM
a reply to: zosimov

My pleasure! (I just shared your avy on my FB page, too...LOL!!)
I taught Spanish as a Second Language for years....
one of my favorite exercises was to have the group pair up, then give them a task. Without saying a word, indicate to the other person that you need to use a toilet.

Fun stuff!
A really good ice-breaker for encouraging the learning of words instead.

posted on Jan, 31 2017 @ 09:51 AM
a reply to: BuzzyWigs

Oh man that sounds like just the activity to assign, and then sit back and have a good hearty laugh. Awesome. And great point that, in some cases, we definitely want our words to do the talking.

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