The inner monologue of Deaf people

A lot of people wonder what the inner monologue of Deaf people might look like. It turns out that this varies from person to person. There are two main factors that influence the inner monologue of a Deaf person: the hearing status, and the level of vocal training.

How deaf people think

The nature of human thought

To understand how language affects our thoughts, we first have to understand the underlying nature of human thoughts. Humans generally think in images, words, or a combination of both. Some people primarily think in words, while others mostly think in images or signs.

If a person was born Deaf and is primarily using sign language as their way to communicate, it’s very likely that this person will also think in sign language. Interestingly, a person who is Deaf but also learned to speak through vocal training will sometimes not only think in sign language but also in spoken language.

Most hearing people experience their own voice in a silent way when thinking, which is also called “internal monologue”. Similarly, most Deaf people see pictures, ASL signs, or sometimes printed words. They see or feel their “inner signing”.

People who are hard of hearing or wear devices that allow them to hear, experience some vocal language in their “inner monologue” depending on how much they can hear.

Everyone needs a language

It is truly important that people learn a language from an early age, regardless of whether it’s a spoken or signed language. In fact, language is so integral for many brain functions such as abstract thinking, memory, and self-awareness that without learning a language from babyhood on, the brain cannot fully develop.

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