Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 5, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 368 pages
18 Reviews
Imagine a village where everyone "speaks" sign language. Just such a village -- an isolated Bedouin community in Israel with an unusually high rate of deafness -- is at the heart of Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind. There, an indigenous sign language has sprung up, used by deaf and hearing villagers alike. It is a language no outsider has been able to decode, until now.

A New York Times reporter trained as a linguist, Margalit Fox is the only Western journalist to have set foot in this remarkable village. In Talking Hands, she follows an international team of scientists that is unraveling this mysterious language.

Because the sign language of the village has arisen completely on its own, outside the influence of any other language, it is a living demonstration of the "language instinct," man's inborn capacity to create language. If the researchers can decode this language, they will have helped isolate ingredients essential to all human language, signed and spoken. But as Talking Hands grippingly shows, their work in the village is also a race against time, because the unique language of the village may already be endangered.

Talking Hands offers a fascinating introduction to the signed languages of the world -- languages as beautiful, vital and emphatically human as any other -- explaining why they are now furnishing cognitive scientists with long-sought keys to understanding how language works in the mind.

Written in lyrical, accessible prose, Talking Hands will captivate anyone interested in language, the human mind and journeys to exotic places.
  

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Review: Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals about the Mind

User Review  - Zahra - Goodreads

This is a really captivating non-fiction book which explains many ideas and lots of research in a story-type way. The one thing I would strongly suggest is to read the introduction. For instance you ... Read full review

Review: Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals about the Mind

User Review  - Helga - Goodreads

I learned a lot about sign language! I used to think it was simple and nothing as complex as a spoken language. I used to think that they were all mutually intelligible. Well, I do not think those ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
In the Village of the Deaf
5
What Is This Wonderful Language?
15
The Road to AlSayyid
38
The SignLanguage Instinct
46
Starry Night
74
The Atoms of Sign
86
The House of Blue Roses
111
Hyssop
148
The Web of Words
155
The House Built from the Second Story Down
170
Grammar in Midair
178
Hassans House
206
A Sign in Mind
218
The House of Twenty Children
238
In a Wet Place
272

Everyone Here Speaks Sign Language
123

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About the author (2008)

Margalit Fox is a public speaker and an award-winning reporter in the famed obituary news department of The New York Times as well a former New York Times Book Review editor. Fox has a master's degrees in linguistics from Stony Brook University and a masters degree from Columbia Journalism. she lives in Manhattan with her husband, the writer and critic George Robinson..

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