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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/378

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

effective. Hearing need not be lacking to secure this result, for one possessing an acute ear may read speech from the facial movements. It is doubtful if there are many of the teachers of articulation to the deaf, a work requiring sensitive hearing, who consciously or unconsciously do not put to practical use some of their knowledge of the appearance given to the features by speech. This ability of the eye to take upon itself duties heretofore supposed to belong to the ear exclusively is a priceless boon to the deaf. Let others be instructed according to Francis Gouin's axiom: "The organ of language—ask the little child—is not the eye; it is the ear." We may add, if the ear has lost its cunning, the eye is a wonderful substitute.

The signs used in educating the deaf were perfected by hearing men and are arbitrary, learned by teacher as well as pupil, and unintelligible to most persons. The first signs employed by the little child, being copied from those in daily use among all classes of people, are termed natural. They express the putting on and taking off of the hat and coat, and thus the going out and the return home; the opening and closing of books, boxes, and doors; the acts of eating and drinking, driving, whipping, pushing, pulling, beckoning, running, and jumping. Animals are watched. The shape of the cat and the dog's mouths while giving their peculiar cries, "meaw" and "bow-wow," is copied; the curious action of the rabbit's legs when the creature is lifted by the ears is noticed and imitated; the first and second fingers of both hands raised to the head show that the movements of a horse's ears are observed. Impressions being conveyed through the sense of touch, the child communicates with others by describing in gestures the shape of the object he has felt. His eye has seen the form of a ball; but he knows more about it than the eye can reveal, for he has put his hands around it. Touch, taste, and smell come to his aid. The lack of facial movement gives place to grimaces; the nose becomes an expressive feature, and bitter and sweet, like and dislike, are revealed by strong looks. Accompanying ignorance of sounds there is an unconscious play of the vocal organs, forming a series of more or less unpleasant grunts and screams. The child's mental food is in what he sees, pictures or "images." He makes good use of all, showing an excellent ability to reason, but is liable to mistakes incidental to the fact that he may not have had the truth presented to him. A piece of chalk has been broken. He puts the parts together, appealing in that way to have it mended. His faith is large and his knowledge small. Some one takes them from him, dexterously substitutes a fresh crayon, and gives it to the child. He is not to blame for thinking it is possible to put together the pieces so perfectly that no one can see the mark of break. At another time, the honest--