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Critical Analysis of A Journey Into the Deaf World Book Authored by Harlan Lane and Robert Hoffmeister

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While hearing people are able to determine what portion of society an individual speaker might come from by their choice of words and word order, Deaf people are able to determine how long an individual has been a part of the Deaf world or what their experience of it has been by the same grammar structure comparison used by hearing people. Grammar in the Deaf world is shown to share many characteristics with spoken language, but this is not necessarily English. The history of ASL has its foundations in France and still bears many resemblances.

Word order tends to depend upon whether a person grew up with ASL as their native language. Verb tense and direction of action in ASL are typically communicated through the directional movement of the hands rather than through specific changes in the signs used, just as other languages use the same root word, but conjugate the endings to reflect more precise meaning. However, this type of directional grammar is usually most understood by native speakers, while those who have been in the Deaf world for a long time tend to only recognize some improper tense and pronoun usages, meaning even they are missing out on a great deal of the depth of expression available to them.

Facial movements also play a large role in conveying precise meaning. Having proved the concept that ASL is a true cultural language, capable of the full depth and range of spoken languages, the authors move on to discuss the rich variety of life to be found in the Deaf world. Far from being the shady underground cellar of misery that is often envisioned by those in the hearing world, the Deaf world has found many unique ways to overcome the challenges of their particular minority.

Because the majority of people born Deaf are actually born to hearing parents, it is difficult for Deaf communities to find each other. Likewise, people who become Deaf during their lifetimes have difficulty navigating their way through to the safety of the Deaf world itself. The residential Deaf schools are one means by which they work to provide the support system such as permanent alienation from the majority of society requires.

Through these schools, several organizations have been established specifically for Deaf people, including sports teams, social clubs, and political groups. Deaf artists present various types of visual arts, theatre, and literature designed for hearing and Deaf education and enjoyment.  

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