The stream of consciousness that led to this is boring, but where I ended up was thinking that deaf people, having to use their hands to communicate, must find themselves shying away from things like pottery making, for instance. Because one you’re doing it, it’s really hard to just stop and speak to someone with your hands all covered in clay.
Actually, the stream of consciousness might help: it was actually one of those half-awake dreams. Marlee Matlin was in it, and it was about cooking something messy. And first my dreamy thought was that being so hand-oriented, she would probably prefer to do lots more cooking with bare hands. Then, as I became more awake, I realized that no, she probably wouldn’t, because she needs her hands to communicate. (Matlin specifically actually doesn’t, since she is capable of speech. But not all deaf people are.)
So then I was thinking about what else might inconvenience communication for a deaf person by occupying or dirtying their hands so that talking became messy or difficult and so was either avoided or delayed? Like… are deaf people actually prevented from becoming surgeons, because their hands can’t be instantly available to communicate? Are they prevented because it’s necessary to hear to begin with?
None of this should be taken in any insulting way, I’m simply curious. I actually LOVE LOVE LOVE sign language, love to watch deaf people talk to each other. I think its’ beautiful and thrilling, and I very ambitiously explored the possibility of learning it a few years ago. (I’ve always known the alphabet, because my sister played Helen Keller on stage when I was a very little girl and she taught it to me.) I wanted to learn two languages simultaneously, actually: french and ASL… I thought I’d learn the try to learn the same things at the same time in each language, I could practice simultaneously. Like I said, ambitious.
But there’s no doubt that it is, in certain contexts, a very inefficient way to be forced to talk…like in surgery and pottery-making.
Do we have any deaf dopers?
(Another thing that intrigues me is the way deaf people can and do essentially learn two extremely different languages, because the little I do know about ASL tells me that the grammar and syntax are completely unrelated to English.)