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Post Reply if you are born deaf, what language do you think in?
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Posted 2/17/15
I would guess that enough cultural "instructions" (i.e. things that are the way they are due to the syntax of the language, artefacts like signs and writing, etc. ) that would equate to a similar mode of thought as those that speak the language. I think culture is more the mode of thought than language. Language is just a tool to express the culture. (and given enough time, the languages can fragment as does the culture).
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Posted 2/17/15

KisaiGate wrote:

A friend of mine had a girlfriend that was deaf since birth. I don't think we ever covered what language deaf folk "think" in BUT I can offer this piece of insight.

Those that are deaf usually refer to people that know in sign language symbols that are have something to do with an outstanding feature that the person finds about them. My name in sign language became "hair" because I was rocking long hair at the time. I'm sure there are signs that do actually refer to English names but personal acquaintances are usually called out in the aforementioned way.

She also muttered in English word sounding like vocalizations when she talked in sign. They DO learn the written language and they can feel the vibrations of sound and their own voice but they have no ability to correct themselves since they cant hear their own voice.

It might be accurate to think that they might think in a combination of visualizations and their native language, especially in sign language, given that it is a symbolic gesture based code.

Edit: Stupid spelling mistakes.



I wonder, do you think it would be possible to teach a deaf person some vocalization (the throat does vibrate at different tones it seems)
Posted 2/17/15 , edited 2/17/15
Why don't you just ask a deaf person, they have get togethers in public places(like Starbucks), you can just probably pop in there and ask. Well if you know sign language that is. I've been to one before during my American Sign Language class in high school.

Just never actually thought to ask that question.

That and I was a beginner so I couldn't articulate much.
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54 / M / Tacoma, WA. wind...
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Posted 2/17/15 , edited 2/17/15
What ever language your parents teach you. If you are deaf it will probably be American or International Sign..... I'd be curious just what a person like that would be thinking before they learn any language.

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Posted 2/17/15
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23 / M / Kaguya's Panties
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Posted 2/17/15 , edited 2/17/15
If you're born deaf, are you even thinking? Or is it an illusion?
Bavalt 
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28 / M / Canada
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Posted 2/17/15 , edited 2/18/15
There was another topic similar to this one a couple weeks back, and I'll say the same thing here that I did there: you think in words a lot less than you realize. Cognition doesn't have to be sensory, and I would imagine most people think much more quickly than they can speak in the first place. Rather, inner vocalization allows us to "go over" our thoughts and present them in a more precise and solid form. The same can be said of imagining images.

Thoughts don't just appear in your head as sentences (or pictures) - you think about something and then find the words for it. This is why there are plenty of intelligent people who have trouble communicating their ideas, especially in real-time.

That said, I do believe that language can influence the way a person thinks. The grammar, lexicon, connotations, history, and even the phonetic similarities between words within a language can all influence a person's thought patterns (for example, most spoken languages draw a clear line between "one" of something and "more than one" of something - singular vs plural. A person unfamiliar with language could hypothetically be inclined to count objects precisely at all times, or at least to a higher number before they reach the designation of "a bunch".) Vocalizing or picturing something in your head can in turn lead to new avenues of thought you may not have considered without doing so. I think it would be really cool to become fluent in a foreign language or two and see just how much it broadens my perspective.

That said (note that this is pure speculation), I don't think deaf people are at any disadvantage when it comes to thought, as they might very well trade out a speaker's greater broadness of thought for greater concentration and precision, by not having the words around to distract or unnecessarily filter their train of thought.
Posted 2/17/15
Can deaf people think sound? That is a better question.
I mean we can visualize colors in our minds and sounds, but can blind and deaf people do this?
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28 / M / ihlok
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Posted 2/18/15

SacredBlood77 wrote:

Thought about this before, it's extremely interesting. If you are completely fluid in 2 different languages, which one do you think in? This question probably can't be answered.

interesting question. deaf people would visualize, i think.
i speak multiple languages, fluid in 2 and i think in either of the 2 languages depending on the language i'm using at that moment. hence it's different at different occasions.
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34 / M / US
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Posted 2/18/15
Not everyone thinks in language at all.

I've had discussions on the topic in the past, and I've learned that there are many different types of thinkers. Thinking in language is probably the most common, but not the only method. Language isn't all that necessary for individual thought - only for conveying that thought to others. We only think in words out of habit.

My uncle, for example, is a visual thinker. If he wants a beer, he pictures himself going to the fridge and opening a beer. The word, "beer" is not the first thing that pops into his head. Others are tactile or sensation-based thinkers, imagining what the beer would taste or feel like in the mouth and throat.

I imagine that the deaf think in terms of other senses as my uncle does.
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Posted 2/18/15 , edited 2/18/15

Bavalt wrote:

There was another topic similar to this one a couple weeks back, and I'll say the same thing here that I did there: you think in words a lot less than you realize. Cognition doesn't have to be sensory, and I would imagine most people think much more quickly than they can speak in the first place. Rather, inner vocalization allows us to "go over" our thoughts and present them in a more precise and solid form. The same can be said of imagining images.

Thoughts don't just appear in your head as sentences (or pictures) - you think about something and then find the words for it. This is why there are plenty of intelligent people who have trouble communicating their ideas, especially in real-time.

That said, I do believe that language can influence the way a person thinks. The grammar, lexicon, connotations, history, and even the phonetic similarities between words within a language can all influence a person's thought patterns (for example, most spoken languages draw a clear line between "one" of something and "more than one" of something - singular vs plural. A person unfamiliar with language could hypothetically be inclined to count objects precisely at all times, or at least to a higher number before they reach the designation of "a bunch".) Vocalizing or picturing something in your head can in turn lead to new avenues of thought you may not have considered without doing so. I think it would be really cool to become fluent in a foreign language or two and see just how much it broadens my perspective.

That said (note that this is pure speculation), I don't think deaf people are at any disadvantage when it comes to thought, as they might very well trade out a speaker's greater broadness of thought for greater concentration and precision, by not having the words around to distract or unnecessarily filter their train of thought.

What this person said. Maybe to highlight one aspect of this, how would you describe any color to a blind person? How would a deaf person ever recognize the word blue even though they can see it just fine? Words are a mere association to a concept or object. Not having the word doesn't mean the concept of thing doesn't exist. There is no impairment in how a deaf or blind person thinks.
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Posted 2/18/15
Well the first communication that they know is visual so they'd start there. Then they can add sign language. We have BSL (British sign language). Even that varies the same way English has many dialects and different accents. There are regional differences in sign language in the UK. Almost every county has their own sign language. Those who don't will just adopt another country's sign language. In the Caribbean we use ASL (American sign language). There's also some international sign language but this isn't so popular.

We all think in more than words as it is since it took a while for all of us to learn to talk. We had sight to look at things including other people's body language and facial expressions. Babies can sign before they master spoken language so if a parent knows their child is deaf they'll be fluent in sign before a hearing child is fluent in spoken language. Some parents learn baby sign language (really it's Makaton, a simple sign language) to be able to communicate fully with their baby quickly. People with learning disabilities are also taught Makaton.

I once had a body language class and they had us to an experiment. Half the class went out of the room and the other half myself included stayed in were given a word. We had to describe this word without using the word itself and no body language. The word they gave us was "spiral". Not one of us could thing of a good description within the few minutes to tell the other half of the class. It was frustrating. I can think of a description now but that's after having a lot more time.
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Posted 2/18/15
this really makes me think a lot
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Posted 3/9/15
I wasn't born deaf, but I started losing my hearing when I was 9. I have a cochlear implant now but for a long time there I was without assistance. I'd lost 98% of my hearing by the time I was 20. I am for all intents and purposes completely deaf. And I can say from experience that I agree with a few of the posts on here. Personally, I think in the language I was taught to read and write. This isn't to delve into the whole debate as to who thinks in words and who thinks in images and what have you. This is just an answer from someone that fits at least part of the questions criteria.

To add to it for those that are interested, my mind also comes up with my own voices for those I talk to and the shows I watch. It's pretty entertaining. Kind of like when reading a book (or online post) and in your head you've automatically assigned some sort of voice for the mental narrating.
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20 / M / moe australia
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Posted 3/9/15
I'm Hearing Impaired or Deaf as some like to say(my parents never married when i was born so technically I'm a Deaf Bastard ), I've been deaf since birth its hereditary through my mothers side, though i wear Hearing Aids which do help me hear a lot better than i would if i have them out so I'm not completely deaf. Being deaf sucks though that said there are some advantages like when a place is playing a really shit song you can turn your hearing aids off or if someone is talking shit to you well turn em off lol but if you making love to a sweet lovely blonde blue eyed girl and she's a bit quiet in vocally expressing her enjoyment of your intimate affections then i just turn my hearing aids up to hear a her appreciation better.

The Government here in Australia made me attend Kindergarten twice because of my disability, i hated it , i lost all my friends in the first year and had to make more the second time around. When i finally got to primary school i used to have a special teacher who would come and help with my vocalisation of words etc. It's probably why i speak english fairly well. Since i speak english i think in english. There's no mystery. I used to have a deaf friend who was completely deaf i didn't know sign language at the time but we got along fairly well no problems communicating.

Since my disability is hereditary i have chosen to NOT have children, i refuse to be responsible for the disability in a child, its a horrible thing to do to someone. Probably explains why I'm still single, but that's fine i have two beautiful cats, their my children.

I ended up being an avid reader, i would devour book after book, if i had of known about manga when i was a kid i would've devoured them too, this is mostly why I'm here, when i first found out about anime and that it nearly always had subtitles i became addicted to watching them
because it meant i can finally watch something without missing half of what's being said. Its like going to the picture theatre to watch a movie you have been wanting to see and you have someone behind you who randomly blocks your ears while your trying to watch and listen. It's hard and annoying. But subtitles make life hell of a lot easier. This is why i have a paid membership to Crunchyroll because its my way of saying thanks for the awesome shows and most of all the subtitles. Though i think they should increase their Cat Girl anime there isn't enough!

Took me along time to accept my disability, people have been absolute C@#ts about it, sometimes even girls, but I'm ok about it all now finding a job that suits my disability is almost impossible. Though i did develop a mischievous sense of humour about my disability especially when people ask me when finding out about my hearing impairment do i know sign language, my response is simple, Sure i say then lift up a hand showing only my middle finger...
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