AMERICAN INDIAN UNIVERSAL SIGN LANGUAGE When a boy, from 1884 to 1894, the author lived on the edge of the Sioux Indian Reservation in Dakota Territory, located at Fort Sully, Cheyenne Agency, Pierre, and surrounding sections. He worked on the cow range and associated continuously with Indians. He learned some of the Sioux language. and made a study of sign. Since then, for many years, the interest has continued, and all known authorities on 'sign have been studied, as well as continued investigations with Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Sioux, Arapahoe, and other Indians of recognized sign-talking ability.
Amer-Ind Gestural Code Based on Universal American Indian Hand
RKS ~ "Tribes having never met and not knowing each other's language could non-the-less communicate in this way. It was a common form of communications with whites, especially on first contact.
"Gesture, for example - the nongramatical expressive movements we all make [shrugging shoulders, waving good-bye, brandishing a fist, etc] - is preserved in aphasia, even though Sign is lost, emphasizing the absolute distinction between the two. Patients with aphasia, indeed, can be taught to use "Amerindian Gestural Code", but cannot use sign, any more than they can use speech.
[Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks, P.75 of the paperback edition]
If a language used by non-human primates can be taught to aphasiacs then this is proof positive that that
language is gesturally based, or an extension of gestural code and not a language in the sense of that used by humans.
simple gestural code is very effective. The deaf can make themselves understood to non-signers very
effectively on a daily basis and have done so for millennia. Explorers discovered numerous new tribes
throughout history and managed to not only communicate with them, but to initiate trade, get directions etc
all using simple gestural code.
The gestural code referred to by Oliver Sacks can be taught to deaf aphasiacs who have lost the ability to sign, indicating that this level of communication is not mediated by the human 'language' centres. "
American Sign Language video shows the moves based on Amer-Ind Gestural Code.
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Brain scans reveal the basis
Brain imaging studies at McGill University in Montreal have overturned conventional theories about the way that humans acquire and process language. Researchers have compared findings from profoundly deaf people who communicate in sign language with those from people with normal hearing. "Sign languages offer a clear window through which we can examine the biological foundations of language," psychologist Laura-Ann Petitto. "The two groups are not only using different perceptual modalities - sound versus sight - but different areas of the brain are involved in motor control of the tongue and hands."
Pettito and brain imaging specialist Robert Zatorre are using positron emission tomography (PET) scans to investigate oxygen uptake in the brain as a way of gauging its physiological activity while carrying out basic language tasks. The results are correlated with those from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify precisely which anatomical structures are involved.
Petitto is looking at which parts of the brain are involved in processing language. The work builds on earlier studies by Ursula Bellugi at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. Bellugi demonstrated that signing is a true language controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain, the hemisphere involved in spoken language, rather than by the left hemisphere, the side associated with spatial skills.