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Volume 142, N ο. 3, 1997 Words Recognized as Units Systematic Signs Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, January 8, 1876. Gallaldet University Archeves. John Carlin New York Friend Porter:—I send you this letter for insertion in the January number, if it is not too late. I read with interest the paper of Mr. Jacobs, in the October number, treating of the signs in the order of the words; and also Mr. Burnet's, with your reply, with reference to the forms under which deaf-mutes apprehend words. I agree perfectly with Mr. Jacobs, in the importance and practicability of his mode of facilitating the deaf-mute's language, for I have always condemned , and still condemn, the excessive use of colloquial signs in the school-room. In sustaining the correctness of his "theory, " I shall here make some observations suggested by my own experience, show the real causes of the deaf-mute's want of fluency in spelling on the fingers, writing and reading; and to improve if possible his method, propose a few modes of systematizing the machinery of his thought. Still feeling the warmth of friendship existing between myself and the sturdy knight of Livingston and the modest knight of Hartford, who have just commenced a tournament promising to be memorable in the annals of history, I shall refrain from saying which side I take of this controversy; but my sagacious readers may find out, by seeing straw flying, where the wind blows from. As to the forms under which deafmutes apprehend words, my experience —a born deaf-mute's—tells me that, in reading prose, I recognize written and printed words as units—no matter if they are as long as "incomprehensibility ," &c; and that by their visible characters, just as you would recognize at a glance a friend's face by its lineaments. The meaning of each word recognized as an unit is understood simultaneously . Though words and their meaning may be recognized at a glance, the definite yet hidden idea of a sentence, of which they are composed , is perceived and understood only when the sentence is complete Reprinted from Carlin, J. Õ 859. American Annals of the Deaf, 11(1), 12-17. Volume 142, No. 3, 1997 American Annals of the Deaf and in its perfect sense. Imperfect or complicated sentences sometimes baffle my mental perception. In foreign languages, the words as units are as recognizable as the English ; but in phraseology, I mean foreign , it requires much study to ascertain the subtle sense of whatever phrase may pass under my eyes, as the foreign phrases, idiomatically speaking , are so different from those in English . For example, in the Spanish, which you know is very copious, there are two auxiliary verbs for the term, To Be,— as ser and estar, which however occasionally similar to each other, are essentially different in sense. Bueno is an adjective for good, in English. El es bueno, He is good. El esta bueno, He is well. Thus, it will be perceived that the last verb (estar) changes in toto, the sense of the adjective. In poetry, I read words syllable by syllable. It is proper to state that, notwithstanding my congenital deafness and my having no idea of syllabic sounds, I studied several years ago the principles of versification. In this study, I found it necessary to learn as many syllables as I could, and their accents,—they all being spelt letter by letter, on the fingers; as, Incense (Insens é), In cense (Insens), Knowledge (NoI'-lej), etc. In order to render myself master of the rhythm, I read lines of poetry—for instances Gray's Elegy ,—at first so slowly as to note with accuracy long and short syllables, accents and caesural pauses; by that process my mind unconsciously acquired a habit of reading poetry, syllable by syllable. So fixed is this habit that it is impossible for my mind to glide over verses without taking cognizance of their long and short syllables . I confess, for that reason, reading poetry is not as pleasant now as it was fifteen years ago. From Mr. Burnet's remarks: "If deafmutes possessed the power of conceiving and repeating words as units, the words...


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