The end of silence

One of the latest sensations to be headed around Cyberland is a video of 29-year-old Sloan Churman, a woman who had been born deaf and lived with severe-to-profound hearing loss her whole life. Last week, the You Tube video of her hearing her voice for the first time went viral. She had undergone surgery to receive Envoy Medical’s Esteem Implant, which is similar to but not the same thing as a cochlear implant.

To be perfectly honest, I am torn about the popularity of this video. Of course, it’s lovely to see another human being experience the joy that Churman was clearly caught up in. It’s impossible not to feel happy for her.

The issues surrounding language and the deaf, however, are hugely complicated and I couldn’t help but be reminded of them as I watched Churman’s tears of joy. I wondered how many would be saddened or angered by this video for various reasons, and how many more would consider themselves to be actually informed after simply watching this briefest of views into one experience of one deaf woman. Continue reading

It’s that old je ne sais what.

Once upon a time, there was a little criancinha,
Que estava pendurada from a little janelinha.
A policeman que passou said,
Qu’est-ce que tu fais ici, oh little criancinha?*

As many women grow older, they fear becoming their mothers. They see it in little things they say or in mannerisms they have seemed to pick up without noticing. It sneaks up on them like a predator, waiting to deliver the fatal blow when they realize that they’ve just made the same yukky face that they used to hate on their mothers’ faces.

Whew! Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that! I know I’m saved from that fate because it’s been clear to me for a long time that I am the female incarnation of my father, right down to the way my feet twitch when I’m bored or relaxed. This realization came to me hard, like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, one day many years ago in grad school. Continue reading

Your mother has a smooth forehead.

Conlanging. It sounds vaguely naughty. Do you and your wife conlang? Honk if you conlang! It’s really not as salacious as it may sound (to me, at least). To conlang means to create a language. The word is an amalgamation of Constructed Languages and it refers to the process of intentionally (as opposed to accidentally?) inventing a language. It can also refer to the language itself. Esperanto is the most famous of the constructed languages that had the goal of real world use, but it is by no means the only one. The major ones include:

  • Volapük, introduced by Johann Martin Schleyer a year after Ludovic Zamenhof published Esperanto  in 1878;
  • Ido, created by an Esperanto reformist group in 1907;
  • Novial, developed in 1928 by the late, great linguist Otto Jesperson;
  • Interlingua, published by the International Auxiliary Language Association in 1951. Continue reading