I’m British, female, fortysomething, and have had a cochlear implant since April 2010. This blog describes my learning curve over the last few months: adding the language of hearing to my other languages. I’ve never let the lack of hearing hold me back in learning languages – or anything else, for that matter. I have loved words all my life: other people’s words (literature) and other peoples’ words (foreign languages). My interest in language seems to have cropped up at the same time as I lost my hearing as a child, from what my mother has told me: so perhaps I was determined from the word go not to let being deaf hold me back.
Of course, being deaf means that I’m interested in communication issues of all kinds: the communication barriers and problems faced by deaf people and the ways in which we as deaf people solve them.
The CI has broadened my horizons in learning “hearing language” and for the most part, the sheer interest of learning the language has motivated my blog. However, I’m also a native English user with a first degree in English Literature. Unlike most of my fellow students, I chose not to specialise in, say, the Victorians by choosing options on the 19th century novel and Victorian melodrama, but instead opted for a grounding in every single period of English literature from the Anglo-Saxons to the present day.
I also know British Sign Language (BSL), French, German, Latin, and Old English, with a smattering of ancient Greek, old Norse and langue des signes française (LSF). With that grounding in ancient and modern languages, Romance and Teutonic, I do reasonably well with my receptive and translation skills in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, and Portuguese. I’m passionate about the history of language and its transmission, the psychology of language, and language issues as they affect deaf people, as well as the fascination of seeing and hearing language in action – something most of us do in one form or another every day, through hands, eyes, lips, passing on our own thoughts and receiving those of others in conversation or in the media.
The nature of my job in historical research means that I get to fossick around in both old documents and foreign-language material on occasion. Sometimes the documents are so old that they are virtually written in a foreign language, or they can actually be old foreign-language documents. Translation is a major part of what I do for my day job, therefore, but it’s been an essential life skill in other respects, too, even if I’ll never be one of those specialist interpreters working between Finnish and Portuguese at the EU.