By Garrick Mallery (auth.), D. Jean Umiker-Sebeok, Thomas A. Sebeok (eds.)
1. THE SEMIOTIC personality OF ABORIGINAL signal LANGUAGES In our tradition, language, specifically in its spoken manifestation, is the a lot vaunted hallmark of humanity, the diagnostic trait of guy that has made attainable the construction of a civilization unknown to the other terrestrial organism. via our inheritance of a /aculte du langage, tradition is in a feeling bred inta guy. And but, language is considered as a strength wh ich can ruin us via its power for objectification and category. based on well known mythology, the naming of the animals of Eden, whereas giving Adam and Eve a undeniable strength over nature, additionally destroyed the prelinguistic concord among them and the remainder of the wildlife and contributed to their eventual expulsion from paradise. Later, the post-Babel improvement of various language households remoted guy from guy as weIl as from nature (Steiner 1975). Language, in different phrases, because the valuable strength animating human tradition, is either our salvation and damnation. Our consistent warfare with phrases (Shands 1971) is waged on either inner and exterior battlegrounds. This culturally decided ambivalence towards language is especially appar ent after we come across people or hominoid animals who, for one cause or one other, needs to depend upon gestural varieties of communication.
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Extra info for Aboriginal Sign Languages of The Americas and Australia: Volume 1; North America Classic Comparative Perspectives
Origin, but is a eultivated art, founded upon prineiples whieh ean be readily applied by travelers and officials so as to give them much independence of professional interpretersa class dangerously deeeitful and trieky. Possessing this art, as distinguished from a limited list of memorized motions, they would aeeomplish for themselves the desire of the Prinee of Pontus, who begged of Nero an aecomplished pantomimist from the Roman theater, to interpret among his SIGN LANGUAGE 7 many-tongued subjects.
Its truth can only be established by enrefnl compnrison of lists or vocabularies of signs ta1ten under test conditions at widely different times and places. For this purpose lists have been collated by the writer, taken in different parts of the country at several dates, from the last century to the last month, comprising together more than eight hundred signs, many of them, however, being mere variants or synonyms for the same object or quality, and some being of small value from uncertainty in description or authority, or both.
The signs, descriptions of which are submitted in the present paper, are taken from some one or more of the following authorities, viz: 1. A list prepared by WILLIAM DUNBAR, dated Natchez, June 30,1800, collected from tribes then west of the Mississippi, but probably not from those very far west of that river, pubIished in the Transactions of the American Philosophir,al Society, vol. vi, as read January 16, 1801, and communicated by Thomas J efferson, preaident of the soeiety. 2. The one published in 1823 in "An Aecount of an Expedition from Pittsburgh to the Roeky Mountains, performed in the years 1819-1820.