By Susan Schaller
For greater than 1 / 4 of a century, Ildefonso, a Mexican Indian, lived in overall isolation, set except the remainder of the area. He wasn't a political prisoner or a social recluse, he used to be easily born deaf and had by no means been taught even the main simple language. Susan Schaller, then a twenty-four-year-old graduate scholar, encountered him in a category for the deaf the place she were despatched as an interpreter and the place he sat remoted, on the grounds that he knew no signal language. She chanced on him evidently clever and sharply observant yet not able to speak, and she or he felt forced to carry him to a comprehension of phrases. The booklet vividly conveys the problem, the frustrations, and the pleasure of starting the brain of a congenitally deaf individual to the concept that of language. This moment version encompasses a new bankruptcy and afterword.
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Extra info for A Man Without Words (2nd Edition)
I-L-D-E-F-O-NS-O, I added. " "Yes, Ildefonso," I signed, and pointed to the word. His name was longer than any other word. Since he could note only general shapes, he could attach importance only to the more obvious differences, such as length. Something disturbed him about his written name, and he returned to mine. "Susan," he signed to himself, staring at the name. He didn't know any individual letter or that they could be translated to speech. He knew or sensed only the power in names and words.
I taught or reviewed several other colors, and each time she understood. When we got to red she grew agitated, and began 38 Susan Schaller her strange speaking and incoherent gesturing before starting her tale of blood and sex again. " I gestured. She pointed below her waist, described sexual intercourse, and indicated her pelvic area. "Now? Blood? " I asked. In answer she grabbed my hand and held my ring finger, signing "Man? " To my relief, it was break time. I could only guess at the significance of her communication.
Instead, he looked confused, wondering why I ordered him around senselessly. For days I tried different action signs: see, eat, drink, read, sleep. Ildefonso never once repeated them as signs to learn and use with names, but always as an order. It took me years to figure out the obvious: he simply didn't need them. Miming action is easy, effective, and free of guesswork. Who does what to whom and when or in what sequence are often difficult to figure out, but the action itself is clear. He understood obvious visual actions immediately and even invisible actions like love, understand, and suspect when acted out with hands and faces.
A Man Without Words (2nd Edition) by Susan Schaller