Synopses & Reviews
Published as part of the first report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, this fascinating, wide-ranging study begins with theories and observations about the genesis and universality of sign language and its use by animals, children, and uninstructed deaf-mutes. Following an account of his research methodology and suggestions for further research, the author devotes about 75 pages to describing and illustrating the signs used for specific words -- from "antelope" to "yes" -- plus phrases and sentences such as "I will see you here after next year." or "You gave us many clothes, but we don't want them." Most interesting of all are 40 pages or so of narratives or dialogues, most given both in sign language and in oral paraphrase. Throughout, the numerous illustrations make clear the precise disposition of the body and movements of the hands for signing.
Used throughout the world since earliest times as a common means of communication, sign language was particularly well developed among the Plains Indians of North America. The present study, a significant document in the history of American anthropology, was originally published in 1881 as part of the first annual report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. The author was a retired U.S. Army officer and bureau employee who was perhaps the foremost expert at that time on American Indian sign language. His exceptional knowledge of the subject produced a classic body of research data, still cited by anthropologists.
The book begins with theories and observations about the genesis and universality of sign language, as well as its use by animals, children, and uninstructed deaf-mutes. Following an account of his research and methodology and suggestion for further research, the author devotes several pages to describing and illustrating signs used for specific words from "antelope," "trade," and "yes" to such sentences as "Who are you?" "What is your name?" and "How old are you?" Especially interesting are 40 pages or so of narratives or dialogues, most given both in sign language and in oral paraphrase. Throughout the book, clearly diagrammed illustrations indicate proper movements of body and hands for signing.
Students of linguistics and anthropology anyone fascinated by this age-old method of communication will welcome this inexpensive reprint of a long-unavailable treasure."
Fascinating, wide-ranging study by expert on the subject describes and illustrates signs used for specific words — "antelope," "brave," "trade," "yes," — for phrases, sentences and even dialogues. Scores of diagrams show precise movements of body and hands for signing. Of great interest to students of linguistics and Native American culture.
Table of Contents
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Divisions of Gesture Speech
The Origin of Sign Language
Some Theories upon Primitive Language
History of Gesture Language
Modern Use of Gesture Speech
Our Indian Conditions Favorable to Sign Language
Theories Entertained Respecting Indian Signs
Results Sought in the Study of Sign Language
Notable Points for Further Researches
Mode in Which Researches Have Been Made
LIST OF AUTHORITIES AND COLLABORATORS
EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY
Signals Executed by Bodily Action
Signals in Which Objects Are Used in Connection with Personal Action
Signals Made When the Person of the Signalist is Not Visible
SCHEME OF ILLUSTRATION
Outlines for Arm Positions in Sign Language
Types of Hand Positions in Sign Langage