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What is demeaning about that? Should I be insulted because people say parrots can talk?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Originally Posted by Savvington View Post

What is demeaning about that? Should I be insulted because people say parrots can talk?
Parrots can talk but none have learned the English language. It is an important difference. To say that animals can be taught sign language is to say that sign language, the native language of many Deaf individuals, is somehow so simplistic and primitive that it can be taught to non-human species. Language requires a grasp of human syntax, grammar, and, to a large extent, culture, none of which animals have been demonstrated to possess.
 

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Sounds like an offence in search of an insult to me... we can say parrots "speak" or "talk" and people know what it implies. What's the alternative? Sign/ed? If you tell people a cat can sign half of them would probably think it can sign its name or works on a road crew.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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Originally Posted by Savvington View Post

Sounds like an offence in search of an insult to me... we can say parrots "speak" or "talk" and people know what it implies. What's the alternative? Sign/ed? If you tell people a cat can sign half of them would probably think it can sign its name or works on a road crew.
The offense many Deaf and HH take is with the use of the term "sign language." Yes, you can teach a gorilla signs but you cannot teach it (as of yet) sign language. And, yes, "sign" is both the correct term to use and commonplace when given this context.
 

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There's probably a difference between a sign language and the sign language though.

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Originally Posted by JoBravo View Post

Parrots can talk but none have learned the English language. It is an important difference. To say that animals can be taught sign language is to say that sign language, the native language of many Deaf individuals, is somehow so simplistic and primitive that it can be taught to non-human species. Language requires a grasp of human syntax, grammar, and, to a large extent, culture, none of which animals have been demonstrated to possess.
One can say that they have been taught and subsequently learned English.
 

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Even if it was simple, so what? Not all languages are equally complex. It happens. Logically a language being easier to learn is an advantage - they're meant to enable communication not inhibit it. If people get upset because someone thinks (or unintentionally implies, more likely) that their language is simpler than his language, it comes off as insecurity or pride to me.
 

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Originally Posted by Envy View Post

There's probably a difference between a sign language and the sign language though.
Yes, there is. "Sign language" is about as specific as "spoken language", there are a lot of them.
 

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Originally Posted by JoBravo View Post

Yes, you can teach a gorilla signs but you cannot teach it (as of yet) sign language.
That makes sense if you first define 'language' to mean 'a syntactic-semantic system used by humans'. Doesn't make sense otherwise. And defining it in that way makes your bias obvious. And that bias is much more severe and harmful than any anti-deaf implications you are trying to build into the cat video.
 

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Blah! Blah! Blah! Too much arguing here. That 'Sylvester' video is frickin' hilarious. I was crying from laughing so hard.

Thanks, Laura
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

That makes sense if you first define 'language' to mean 'a syntactic-semantic system used by humans'. Doesn't make sense otherwise. And defining it in that way makes your bias obvious. And a bias much more severe and harmful than any anti-deaf implications you are trying to build into the cat video.
Please tell me how it is biased to say that you cannot teach a gorilla a human language, especially given that people have been trying for decades with no success. It is one thing to say that we have taught an animal one of our languages and another entirely to say that we have taught it a means to communicate with humans using elements of our languages. The two are not the same.

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing are especially sensitive to this because it implies that English and other spoken languages are too complex for animals to comprehend but signed languages, particularly ASL as the lingua franca of sign languages, is rudimentary and simple-enough that it can even be taught to a non-human animal who does not have language.

I reject the idea that is is biased to say that animals do not have language. Animals have wonderful and many methods of communication but none of them (with a few exceptions perhaps given recent research) have been shown to exhibit the features of what we would call language. Generally, yes, I think it is appropriate to use the term 'language' when only referring to certain kinds of human communication and I do not think it is disparaging of animals or animal intelligence in the least. Why should it be? Do animals needs to be able to have language to be worthy of our respect? Does creating a romantic and scientifically-unfounded notion that animals can learn our languages mean anything for how to think of, treat, or relate to them as sentient, living creatures? It shouldn't. It'd be akin to judging a sloth on how well it can swim at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Quite frankly, I'm also puzzled and saddened by the off-hand way the three of you have dismissed this common complaint of the Deaf community. One would think a little compassion and understanding for a subculture that has been oppressed and abused throughout much of our history would be appropriate. I can certainly understand how native users of sign language would be upset, if not out-raged, at comments about sign language being taught to animals because, as I have previously mentioned, what is being taught to the animals is not the language but individual snippets or signs from the language and, historically, they have been told that sign language is not a language, that is nothing more than barbaric human animal communication, and have often been forbidden from using this native language and just as often punished severely if caught doing so.

To native users of sign languages, the idea that sign language can be taught to animals is as offensive to them as someone repeating "ching chong chang" over again to an Asian as if they were trying to speak their native tongue. But yes, the Deaf are just "searching" for a reason to be insulted. That makes perfect sense.

And to clarify, also, I never once did I say or imply that the video was "anti-Deaf" nor is this an argument I am "building"; it is a common complaint with which I sympathize with after having worked closely with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for a few years.

By the gods, I didn't share the video to make a comment about the use of "sign language". The sign language bit was just a passing comment I had on an otherwise cute video I wanted to share because signing kitties are adorable. To that end, since this wasn't the point of the thread (in fact, an argument was the exact opposite intention) I don't feel it appropriate to discuss it in this thread further. If someone wants to make a separate thread for that, by all means but I'm not sure I'll comment more on it here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The Sylvester videos are hilarious! I spent 3 hours watching every single one of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
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Originally Posted by Raven815 View Post

Blah! Blah! Blah! Too much arguing here. That 'Sylvester' video is frickin' hilarious. I was crying from laughing so hard.

Thanks, Laura
Watch the Christmas one.
 

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They've actually determined that whales not only speak languages, but that there are different languages found in the same types of whales depending on their location. ^.^
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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Originally Posted by vegkid View Post

They've actually determined that whales not only speak languages, but that there are different languages found in the same types of whales depending on their location. ^.^
Yup. I was thinking of them and dolphins when talking about a few exceptions.
 
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