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colloquial intercourse between the deaf mute and his friends and relatives who hear.
The limits of an article like the present will not permit our examining the few systems which have been proposed; or even bestowing more than a hasty glance on the principles which must serve as guides in devising a systern for the use of the deaf and dumb. Such an examination would moreover transcend the design of the present essay, which is rather to show what has been done than what may possibly be done.
A system of arbitrary signs, whether written or manual, for every syllable, or even for the greater number of commonly occurring syllables in a language so abounding in monosyllables, and so multitudinous and irregular in the forms of its syllables as our own, is manifestly an impracticable creation. A system of stenography, or of tachy-dactylology, to be useful, should be founded on the principle familiar to every reader who has had the curiosity to examine any of the systems of short-hand so rife at this day; namely, the selection for each letter of a mark or sign so simple that, while each letter continues separately recognizable, the combination of several letters to form a syllable or a word, shall hardly be more complex, or require more time to form than a single letter by the alphabets in common use. The learning of such a system would be reduced, in the first instance, to the learning of an alphabet; and the only remaining difficulty would be to acquire the expertness in its use which diligent practice would soon give.
None of the published systems of stenography for the use of reporters are adapted to the circumstances of the deaf and dumb. A system for the latter must provide for spelling words at length, and according to the usual orthography, as well as for abbreviating them. The necessity of giving the pen a rapidity equal to that of the human voice, a rapidity not essential to the instructor of the deaf and dumb, leads the stenographer into such violent abbreviations that the same character stands for many different words, if slightly similar in sound, and the most expert reporter is obliged to rely on the connection to decypher his own writing. The absurdity of proposing such a system for a class of learners, who can know nothing of resemblances in sound between words different in orthography, and for whom the most distinct perception of each word is often insufficient to determine the sense, is too palpable to require illustration.
It may be doubted whether the advantages derivable from the best system of stenography that could be devised, would repay the instructor of the deaf and dumb, for the labor of familiarizing himself and his pupils with that mode of writing. Such familiarity can only be acquired by the practice of years; and after all, the tediousness of ordinary writing as an instrument of record, of epistolary correspondence, and of deliberate composition, are disadvantages which the deaf and dumb only share in common with those who hear. It is only when the former are compelled to use it in cases in which the latter would use speech,—whether in social intercourse, or for the more rapid repetition of lessons and of examples in the school-room,—that the want of some more rapid and convenient mode of exhibiting words begins to be seriously felt. In such cases a syllabic dactylology would be as much
preferable to stenography as the ordinary manual alphabet is preferable to ordinary writing. Indeed, all the advantages enumerated in another page, as giving to the ordinary manual alphabet a preference over writing, as an instrument of communication, would be equally applicable to a well devised system of syllabic dacıylology; while the single objection to the former as an instrument of thought, namely the multiplicity of successive parts into which it necessarily divides every word, would not be applicable to the latter system.
Whether any system of dactylology can be devised which shall impose no greater burthen on the memory of those who hear than the learning of a new alphabet, while it shall admit of a rapidity of exhibiting words materially greater than by the manual alphabets now in use, is a problem on the solution of which probably depends the answer to the inquiry, whether words can be made colloquial among the deaf and dumb, and whether the language of their countrymen will ever cease to be to them a foreign language? To many it appears altogether impracticable. The writer, however, has devised a system which he is rather sanguine will answer the ends proposed ; but which he has not yet had an opportunity of testing by experiment.
Upon many of the points hitherto considered, there exists among instructors of the deaf and dumb a considerable, often a radical diversity of opinion, or of practice, and some of the views we have expressed may, by many, be dissented from ; but there are other aids to this class of teachers, the want of which is generally felt and acknowledged, and concerning the importance of which there can be no difference of opinion. One great desideratum is a Vocabulary for the use of the deaf and dumb. The ordinary dictionaries are by no means adapted to their use,—the definitions in such dictionaries being very often harder to understand than the word defined. A child learning a foreign language, is provided, not only with a vocabulary explaining each term in that language by equivalent terms in his own, but also with another, furnishing him with the corresponding expression in the language he is to learn for each term of his own. As we have repeatedly had occasion to remark, the language of gestures or the pantomine is the native language of the deaf mute; and the written language we attempt to teach them, remains, till they have thoroughly acquired it, a foreign language. Let us suppose they have acquired a respectable stock of words, say, besides the many they have forgotten, two or three thousand, which, however, have seldom been selected according to any regular method. These amount to less than onefourth the words in common use, and to less than one-tenth of those in occasional use, besides that many of them will often occur in connections giving them a new sense.
In reading any ordinary book, therefore, they will meet in every page, indeed, almost in every line, with unknown or unfamiliar words or phrases, the meaning of which can only be learned by application to the teacher, who may not always be at hand,- for if they apply to Johnson or Webster, they will generally find the word defined by others to them equally unintelligible. When they leave the school, as they are too often obliged to do, half educated, the frequent recurrence in books of such unfamiliar words which no one near them can intelligibly explain, very often disgusts them entirely with reading. This is the principal reason why so many deaf mutes, after leaving school, either remain at a stand-still, or yet oftener retrograde in almost every branch of knowledge there acquired. They meet with similar difficulties when they seek a word to express some familiar idea, which a French or German child studying our language, would readily find in his dictionary. The only assistance of this kind which the deaf mute can at present derive is from a book of pictures, of which there exists no extensive collection for their
These disadvantages are the natural consequences of the colloquial dialect of the deaf and dumb being wholly unconnected with their written language. Hence their knowledge of words is usually far in arrear of the expansion of their ideas, whereas, with children who hear, the reverse is often
If by any means similar to those we have proposed, words could be made, to any considerable extent, colloquial among the former as they are among the latter, the difficulty would soon in a great measure disappear. Still, when the deaf and dumb want words to express their ideas, they have signs for those ideas. If those signs could be fixed on paper, and arranged in a certain order, whether logical or conventional, vocabularies could easily be constructed capable of rendering the same assistance to the deaf mute which the Latin student derives from the common double lexicons of that language.
It has been proposed to form such a vocabulary by the aid of a species of symbolic or ideographic writing parallel to the signs of the deaf and dumb. But, after all, design forms the only language capable of being fixed on paper, which a deaf mute can learn without pains-taking instruction from his teacher. Hence the employment of any species of symbolic or ideographic writing, would only impose on the instructor the task of teaching two written languages instead of one.
The want of a dictionary of the English language adapted to the use of children, whether deaf and dumb, or hearing and speaking, has recently been, in part, supplied by a little volume bearing the name of the late able principal of the American Asylum.* The plan of this compilation is excellent, and we hope soon to see it carried out on a more extensive scale.
Though the present article has already become much longer than we had intended, we have gone over but a smal. part of a field on which volumes have been written, and on which much yet remains to be written. The reader who should be led by curiosity or personal interest in the instruction of the deaf and dumb, to inquire farther into the subject,
* The School and Family Dictionary and Illustrative Definer. By T. H. Gallaudet and Horace Hooker. New York, 1841.
is referred to the publications cited at the head of this article, to the Encyclopedia Americana, and to the celebrated work of Baron Degerando, -"De l'Education des Sourds-Muets de Naissance."
The Works of Nathanael Emmons, D. D., late Pastor of
the Church in Franklin, Mass., with o. Memoir of his Life. Edited by Jacob lde, D. D. Six Volumes. Boston. Published by Crocker and Brewster. 1842.
The first of these volumes contains a brief Autobiography of the late Dr. Emmons ; an “Additional Memoir," by his Editor and Son-in-law, Dr. Ide ; a further delineation of his character, in a "Lecture, read before the Senior Class in the Andover Theological Seminary,” by Prof. Park; also a series of sermons, the most of them Ordination Sermons, on subjects connected with "the Christian ministry." The remaining volumes consist almost entirely of Sermons, Those in the second volume are on “ Social and Civil Duties.” Those in the third are chiefly funeral discourses, and are collectively entitled Instructions to the Afflicted." The sermons in the fourth and fifth volumes are doctrinal, and are so arranged by the Editor as to constitute a regular system of theology. The sermons in the sixth and last volume are of a miscellaneous character.
Dr. Emmons was born, April 20, 1745, in the town of East Haddam, Conn. He was the sixth son, and the twelfth and youngest child, of his parents. He was averse to labor, but loved learning; and after much entreaty, obtained permission of his father to commence the study of languages, at the age
of seventeen. He was fitted for Yale College in about ten months; and though his class contained some distinguished scholars, as Dr. Lyman, Dr. Wales, Gov. Treadwell
, and Judge Trumbull, yet, in the judgment of his classmates, he was accounted worthy, at the close of his