Tag: sign language

Motion-Sensing Gloves Could Let Deaf People Speak Aloud, Through Your Cellphone

By Sophie Bushwick | July 10, 2012 10:26 am

EnableTalk
Prototype of the EnableTalk gloves

Programs that transform typed words into speech are old hat. But what about a tool to translate sign language into audible conversation? Ukrainian students have created gloves that can sense what the hands are signing and a program that translates the signs into both text and speech. The project, called EnableTalk, is a finalist in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology

Numbers Need Language to Make Sense in Our Minds

By Andrew Moseman | February 8, 2011 6:48 pm


How we talk about numbers plays a big role in how we think about numbers—that much is clear. But this week, new research makes the case that language is not a key part of thinking about numbers, but the key part, overriding other influences like cultural ones.

The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by psychologist Elizabet Spaepen focuses on a group of deaf Nicaraguans called the homesigners, who invented their own form of sign language—a form that lacks a numerical vocabulary.

That’s a common trait in many hunter-gatherer societies, where the numbering system is often one-two-three-many. For example, the Munduruku Amazonian people in rural Brazil don’t have any words for exact numbers larger than five. Their neighbors, the Piraha, no exact number words at all. [USA Today]

There are two things that make the homesigners extremely scientifically interesting. One is the fact that they spontaneously invented this language when brought together at a home for the deaf in the 1970s. And the other—the one that’s important for this study—is that they’re not an isolated tribe in which nobody uses numbers. They live within Nicaragua, surrounding by a Spanish-speaking society that’s as number-dependent as any other country. Thus, Spaepen’s team reasoned, if the homesigners struggle to conceptualize larger numbers, the reason would have to be linguistic and not cultural.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain
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