When analyzing any issue about distinctions among words, I believe it's important to use all available resources. In my note, I started with the definition from the M-W online because it summarized the distinctions observed by professional lexicographers on the basis of a corpus of citations, their many years of experience, *and* their "general and intuitive psychological dispositions". But I continued with an analysis that went beyond the M-W definition.
On 11/19/2012 10:05 AM, Angus Grieve-Smith wrote:
> In my research I've seen Deaf people with very low reading abilities
> in spoken languages. As I understand it, they are representative
> of the majority of Deaf people, even in literate countries like the United States.
I'm not going to quibble about the word 'most'. The point I was trying to make is that there are enough ASL users who can read English that one would expect to find ASL signs (or combinations of signs) that can express the common distinctions in English.
> More on topic, in American Sign Language and Mexican Sign Language,
> there are major differences between ad hoc borrowings and fully
> lexicalized signs, and the lexicalized signs don't always correspond
> to what signers may have been reading. So Trevor's point about this
> unnamed sign language is valid: the fact that it distinguishes between
> the three concepts is evidence that the distinction is not confined
> to one community.
I agree. People who are bilingual in two spoken languages may use a phrase in one to express the distinctions they learned in the other. They may also borrow words. But they can express the same distinctions in either language.
I would also cite evidence of infants born to a deaf and a hearing parent. They grow up bilingual in a signed and a spoken language. At each stage of language development, they are equally fluent in their ability to express themselves in either modality. See
Petitto, Laura-Ann (2005) How the brain begets language: On the neural tissue underlying human language acquisition, in J. McGilvray, ed., _The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky_, Cambridge: University Press, pp 84-101.
In her research, Petitto studied infants that were bilingual in all pairs of four languages: English, French, ASL, and LSQ (Langue des Signes Québécoise).
Interesting sidelight: infants born to profoundly deaf parents babble with their hands, but not vocally.