Jenny's Reviews > Seeing Voices

Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks
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Jan 18, 08

Recommended to Jenny by: Laurel
Recommended for: pregant ladies, folks with no idea about deaf studies

I wish Oliver Sacks were my grandfather and I could go to him at his rocker in front of a roaring fire and have him tell stories of people and their brains. This book works somewhat as a story even though its more of a science and history text because Sacks puts a lot of the dry factual stuff in endnote form (and believe me, the endnotes take up half the book. I was tempted to razor the spine so I wouldn't have to flip back and forth all the time) and in the body text he tells stories of people he encounters and his personal experiences with the deaf while he researching the neurological basis of sign language. It's broken up into 3 sections -- deaf history, neurology of ASL, then the Deaf President Now protest at Gallaudet in 1988 (which is a moving story no matter who writes it and Sacks does a GREAT job).

Being a neurologist, it's Sack's primary interest to investigate the neurology of sign language and he shows many interesting facts about how sign became a real Language with its own grammar and a unique spatial linguistics. This differentiates sign from all other spoken languages and makes it incredibly expressive and cool. He also discusses how deaf 3 year olds demonstrate amazing visual and spatial intelligence (and have less temper tantrums). I xeroxed this section of the book for my pregnant friend.

Seeing Voices is sortof outdated with respect to deaf issues such as cochlear implants (it was written in the late 80s after the DPN protest) so I found myself wishing from time to time it was written more recently to reflect new cultural things, or that Sack's will return to sign language for a future book.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Rachel I am taking ASL for the first time this semester. (Yikes! Learning a new language terrifies me!) I wish my teacher assigned this book instead of the crappy one I have been reading.


Jenny Good for you! When it comes time to have a baby you'll be prepared!

But seriously, one of the reasons this book is good is because it summarizes other deaf history and culture texts really, really well so if you're interested in that stuff, this is a good, easy, yet smart, read.


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