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date: 17 November 2019

(p. xix) Preface

(p. xix) Preface

Prefaces come first in books, but they are written last. Although we already had read each of the chapters in this volume at least twice, when we finally assembled them we more fully appreciated the range as well as the depth of the contributions from the authors. Surely, we were impressed with their knowledge, but also by their sometimes implied but unspoken attitudes of near reverence for language and its importance for life as well as for learning. This attitude was almost always blended with a grittier, realistic concern for the effects that differences, challenges, and (all too frequent) delays and even deficits in language development continue to have for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

Instead of our giving, once again, our own interpretation of the state of the field (see The Oxford Handbooks of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Volume 1, second edition, and Volume 2), we have opted to refer back to the recorded thoughts of others who have cogently captured the beliefs, hopes, and occasional disappointments that continue to spur intense efforts to assure that hearing status does not set limits on language and language-related achievements.

On language and life:

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world”

—Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Learning another language is not only learning different words for the same things, but learning another way to think about things”

—Flora Lewis

“Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests”

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

On being different in language:

“When everyone else at school is speaking one language and a lot of your classmates’ parents also speak it, and you go home and see that your community is different—there is a sense of shame attached to that. It really takes growing up to treasure the specialness of being different.”

—Sonia Sotomayor

“It’s always better to speak the language of the team. Not only for the direct contact with everyone—sometimes it also helps you to understand the mentality of the people in the team a bit better.”

—Alain Proust

On differences of opinions that have interfered with knowledge and practice in supporting language development of children who are deaf or hard of hearing:

(p. xx) “Studies of the sign language of the deaf uncomplicated by prescriptions for its use in teaching, by controversy about the advisability of using it at all, or by special pleading for its use as a universal language are not to be found.”

—William C. Stokoe

“If, then, a good education with a good command of the English language can be obtained without any recourse to the de l’Epée language of signs, the question naturally arises, what need is there for the latter at all?”

—Alexander Graham Bell

“Just as education advocates for deaf children argue against a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to school placement, a similar approach to language planning and policy is at best out of date and at worst discriminatory.”

—Harry Knoors and Marc Marschark

On the importance of a strong early communication base and the relative lack of relevance of modality:

“Children who are most likely to be judged as having good communicative skills are those who were exposed to both oral and manual training at an early age.”

—Kathryn P. Meadow-Orlans

“[A] child who is a good communicator before implantation, whether silently or vocally, is likely to have good speech discrimination and intelligibility in later years . . . mode of turn-taking (vocal or gestural) does not appear to be related to outcome measures.”

—Margaret Tait, Mark Lutman, & Ken Robinson

And on measuring language achievements:

“A sentence, however simple, drawn from the total construction potential of a language is a very different thing from the same sentence well prepared for by a pyramid of practice.”

—Roger Brown

“[I]t is important to distinguish between what the children actually do, and what they can do. . . . Tests which are essentially inventories of vocabulary and syntactic constructions are likely to reflect simply the deficiencies of the environment, they obscure the child’s potentialities and capabilities”

—Eric Lenneberg

Patricia E. Spencer

Bethesda, Maryland

Marc Marschark

Rochester, New York