Saturday, September 18, 2004

When life gives you lemons...

An Intersing note from Boing Boing.
Deaf children in Nicaragua create new language
BoingBoing reader Prodigal Tom says, "This is a fascinating article about deaf and totally neglected children in Nicaragua inventing their own sign language. I was also psyched because I learned there is an actual job called a psycholinguist! There's also a great point about how the language has evolved, so the younger members have a slightly different version than the originators." Link to Reuters synopsis, and Link to Science Magazine article, which appears to be available only to paid subscribers. (Thanks also to Mike Oliveri and others who pointed us to this item)
This is relevant to Information Quality in that the kids didn't find the new language adequate and changed it to suit them:
Today there are about 800 deaf signers of Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL), ranging from 4 to 45 years of age. Previous research on NSL has found that changes in its grammar first appear among preadolescent signers, soon spreading to subsequent, younger learners, but not to adults. This pattern of transmission, when combined with the rapid and recent expansion of NSL, has created an unusual language community in which the most fluent signers are the youngest, most recent learners. Consequently, much of the history of the language can be surveyed by performing a series of observations, progressing from the older signers, who retain much of NSL's early nature, to younger, more recent learners, who produce the language in its expanded, most developed form.

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