[Lingtyp] Fwd: Is written language a separate modality?
gil at shh.mpg.de
Wed Jan 2 08:19:34 UTC 2019
My response would be that a deaf person who knows how to read and write
in an oral language DOES "know" that language, to a very considerable
extent. What you know when you know a language is an abstract system of
rules that underlies both speech and writing but exists independently of
both of these manifestations of language. Granted, a deaf person who
can read and write an oral language will be missing out on more
substantial aspects of the language (most of the phonetics and
phonology) than a hearing but illiterate person. But still, a deaf
person who can read and write Indonesian cannot but know lots of the
language, rather like a contemporary hearing scholar of Ancient
Sumerian. In contrast, a deaf signer of ASL does not have his or her
linguistic competence anchored in any spoken language, such as English —
sign languages are not parasitic on or derivative from any spoken
languages. (Though there can be all kinds of contact between signed and
spoken languages, but that's a separate issue.)
On 02/01/2019 17:01, Joo Ian wrote:
> Dear David,
> Thank you for your insight. However, I would not agree that learning
> spoken Indonesian is necessary for learning written Indonesian - the
> deaf Indonesians are a clear counterexample, as they never would have
> learned spoken Indonesian.
> Ian JOO (주이안)
> *From:*Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf
> of David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de>
> *Sent:*Wednesday, January 2, 2019 3:56:30 PM
> *To:*lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> *Subject:*Re: [Lingtyp] Is written language a separate modality?
> Dear all,
> On 02/01/2019 10:19, Joo Ian wrote:
> I would like to ask everyone if you agree on the idea that written
> language is not simply a representation of spoken language, but a
> distinct modality (similar to how sign and spoken language are
> different modalities).
> I would say yes and no, but more no ...
>> It seems that there is a general consensus that a written language is
>> simply the “shadow” of a spoken language. But I am not sure if this
>> is exactly the case.
> You are right that this is not exactly the case. Case in point:
> Social media in Indonesia (and presumably other places as well) has
> innovated all kinds of conventions that are purely orthographic: they
> have a life of their own, beyond the language that they "come from".
> Emoticons are just one small aspect of this. if you "just" know
> Indonesian, but are not familiar with these conventions, you won't be
> able to follow a Facebook conversation "in Indonesian".
> But here's the rub: knowing Indonesian isn't a sufficient condition
> for understanding such a Facebook conversation, but it's most
> definitely a necessary condition. Such orthographic systems are still
> derivative from the spoken language, the way a ludling might be, or,
> for that matter, the way signed versions of spoken languages, such as
> Signed English is.
> But this is NOT the case for real sign languages. A sign language
> such as ASL has nothing whatsoever to do with any spoken language; you
> don't need to learn English to learn ASL, and for the most part it
> won't help you that much to do so. So the analogy between written
> language and sign language is of only limited validity and is
> potentially misleading.
> -- David Gil Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution Max
> Planck Institute for the Science of Human History Kahlaische Strasse
> 10, 07745 Jena, Germany Email: gil at shh.mpg.de <mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834 Mobile Phone (Indonesia):
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Email: gil at shh.mpg.de
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
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