Language by Mouth and by Hand
[Source: Science Daily]
Humans favor speech as the primary means of linguistic communication. Spoken languages are so common many think language and speech are one and the same. But the prevalence of sign languages suggests otherwise. Not only can Deaf communities generate language using manual gestures, but their languages share some of their design and neural mechanisms with spoken languages.
New research by Northeastern University’s Prof. Iris Berent further underscores the flexibility of human language and its robustness across both spoken and signed channels of communication.
In a paper published in PLOS ONE, Prof. Berent and her team show that English speakers can learn to rapidly recognize key structures of American Sign Language (ASL), despite no previous familiarity with this language.
Like spoken languages, signed languages construct words from meaningless syllables (akin to can-dy in English) and distinguish them from morphemes (meaningful units, similar to the English can-s). The research group examined whether non-signers might be able to discover this structure
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