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Re: no language no people

From:Dan Sulani <dnsulani@...>
Date:Friday, January 26, 2001, 9:20
On 25 Jan, Roger Mills wrote:

>Dan Sulani wrote: >>because that would signify that a person without a lang >>cannot exist; something I as a speech-language-pathologist >>know not to be true. Sometimes my job entails providing >>lang capabilitiy to human beings who are very much alive >>and who definitely have personality (if not downright _attitude_ >>sometimes! :-) ).> > >Stroke victims?
I have treated them. And victims of traffic accidents. Also children who didn't develop language. I remember one case where I was in a school trying without success to get a little kid who only spoke isolated words ( and few enough of those) to string two words together into a sentence. Suddenly, without warning or apology, the janitor barged into the room, walked over to the scales, and weighed himself. The kid took it all in. Then, without a word, the janitor turned to leave the room. Suddenly the kid yelled out "you're fat!"! Actually he wasn't, but I gave the kid a big hug and full marks for the lesson! :-) > Terrible and strange things happen (but linguistically
>interesting, alas).
> My dread.
Also mine. Especially after some of the things I have seen. Such as the professor of English, whose whole life revolved around language. He had a stroke, lost his linguistic ability (his mouth wasn't paralyzed, he just couldn't formulate his thoughts or feelings into words! :-( ). The frightful thing about it was that he retained full memories of what he once was able to do; he just couldn't do it anymore! The poor man terrified all the people who tried to help him! Spent his whole time screaming and crying in impotent frustration! Laryngectomy patients? Not what I was referring to, but I have also treated them.
>At least the brain is not affected. >Having gone through the experience of a parent with Alzheimer's,
I'm sorry to hear that.
> I'd be inclined to say "without memory, there is no person".
In one sense of the word "person", I understand what you mean, and I even agree with you. But OTOH, the perception of "person" can involve very minimal functioning. I was taught this by another therapist whose institution I once had occasion to visit. He took me to a crib which contained a girl in diapers who looked to be about 3 years old, but who was in reality in her teens. Her disease was progressive and it wasn't clear how much more time she had. She was totally paralyzed and the only voluntary movement she could make was to move her eyeballs from side to side. Not what you'd call a prime candidate for speech therapy. Nonetheless, this therapist insisted upon looking in on her each day and placing, by her head, a small radio tuned to a music station. He explained that nobody knew what the girl was thinking, or if she was thinking at all. But, since every time he moved the radio, she tracked it with her eyes, there was the remote possibility that she got something out of the music. And if he couldn't get her to talk, she was still a person and at the very least maybe he could provide her with some small source of pleasure while she was still in this world. That's something I've never forgotten. Dan Sulani -------------------------------------------------------------------- likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a. A word is an awesome thing.