By Andries W. Coetzee
Nov 03, 2012
The circumstances for the spontaneous creation of a new language are rarely met, and therefore there are precious few examples of this phenomenon in all of the linguistic history of mankind. One recent example is found in the remote Bedouin village of El-Sayed in Israel's Negev desert. This community has an exceptionally high prevalence of deafness, which over the years has resulted in the creation of a completely new sign language.
In El-Sayed, being deaf was not seen as a deficit but just as another way of being. The relative peace and tranquility of this community is interrupted by one father's decision to change his deaf son's fate by equipping him a Cochlear Implant. This decision is evoking great conflict in the village threatening the tradition of peaceful coexistence between the deaf and hearing.
The story of the sign language of El-Sayed and the impact of the first Cochlear Implant in the village is chronicled in a recent documentary by film maker Oded Adomi Leshem, called "Voices from El-Sayed". This is a unique and moving documentary, offering an intimate cinematic dialogue with El-Sayed's marvelous silent people. A trailer of the film is available here.
The Linguistics Department, together with Hillel, is co-sponsoring the screening of this film this week (more information below). There will also be an opportunity to meet the director during a Q&A session after the screening. Come learn more about this fascinating story! A flyer for the event is available here.
What: Screening of "Voices from El-Sayed"
When: Wednesday, 11/7, 6 pm
Where: Hillel Building, 1429 Hill Street, Ann Arbor