Question: in what language do deaf people think in

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  1. What an interesting question. So this answer is just me speculating. I guess that you are talking about someone who is deaf from birth – and doesn’t get a chance to learn to speak in the same way that people with normal hearing do.

    So, one example – some deaf people learn to communicate via sign language. It seems to make sense to me that their thoughts would be framed in this style of communication as well. I don’t know if they can learn to lip read at all? Also – they learn to write I am sure – and so the language they will learn is the one they are raised in – but the probably won’t “hear” words in their brain like you and I do.

    Something that I only became aware of recently was that people have very different ways of thinking. Personally I am a very “visual” person – I tend to think in images. Someone else told me this – and I wondered what an earth they were talking about – everyone thought like this, right? But no, this person told me he thinks in words. I couldn’t understand how this could possibly work – and he told me this was because I was a visual thinker!


  2. I think Matthew has answered this well. I think the main thing would be deaf from birth or acquired deafness (such as through illness or accident). I do know that sign language differs between countries so that a deaf person travelling from Aust to US would have to learn a new language.


  3. Another fabulous question!:D
    Again I think Matthew covered it reasonably well. I would think deaf individuals are likely to frame visual images (e.g. see written words, “sign” or braille) before the communicate in a similar to the way people who are able to hear – “hear” sounds in their heads. I would think they could learn to lip read – given the importance of visual cues, even though they wouldn’t assign sounds to those lip movements. As Mark suggested would need to speak to a psychologist of a deaf person themselves to clarify this.

    Following on from Matthews comments about learning styles, as I understand it there are three main types visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (touch/feel). The percentages in the population are (from memory) something like 70% : 20% : 10%. So the majority of us are visual learners – I however fall into the third group the kinaesthetic learners – I find it really had to just to take something in by watching or listening, I find I need to be doing something with my hands at the same time – writing the information down, holding a piece of paper or the mouse if reading the computer screen otherwise I don’t take things in anywhere near as well?!? What an amazing world we live in!! 😀


  4. Great question, and some fascinating answers. I’ve always wondered about this myself!