Talking Hands: What Sign Language Reveals About the Mind

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Simon and Schuster, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 354 pages
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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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - EowynA - LibraryThing

Half of this book is the story of a group of linguists during a three-day field-studies visit to the village of Al-Sayyid. The village is interesting to linguists because a lot of deaf people were ... Read full review


User Review  - Kirkus

A New York Times reporter considers the case (and the significance) of a unique sign language that has emerged among the many congenitally deaf denizens of an isolated Bedouin village in northern ... Read full review


In the Village of the Deaf
What Is This Wonderful Language?
The Road to AlSayyid
The SignLanguage Instinct
Starry Night
The Atoms of Sign
The House of Blue Roses
The Web of Words
The House Built from the Second Story Down
Grammar in Midair
Hassans House
A Sign in Mind
The House of Twenty Children
In a Wet Place

Everyone Here Speaks Sign Language

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About the author (2007)

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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