Catalogue

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A man without words /
Susan Schaller ; with a foreward by Oliver Sacks.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1995]
description
204 p. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
0520202651 (pbk : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, [1995]
isbn
0520202651 (pbk : alk. paper)
general note
Originally published: New York : Summit Books, 1991.
catalogue key
1620882
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 201-204).
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"At the level of sheer pleasure in reading, A Man without Words is as gripping as a novel, eliciting great sympathy for both protagonist and author. . . . The question that drives it--what is it like to be without language?--should be of interest to any reflective person, and it is one of the great scientific questions of all time."--Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1991-01:
``What would life be like,'' wonders Oliver Sacks in his foreword to this intriguing story, ``for a languageless man,'' a human being ``deprived of what all the rest of us take for granted, deprived of the essentially human birthright of language?'' When she took a temporary job as an interpreter for the deaf for a southern California community college class, Schaller met such a person. ``Ildefonso'' (as she calls him here)--27 years old, bright, deaf, and an illegal alien from Mexico--had never been exposed to proper sign language and was unaware of the myriad possibilities of language. The story of how Schaller patiently and painstakingly worked with him to bring him to the point of grasping, for the first time, the meaning of a sign and of recognizing a single signed word is truly inspiring. Recommended for most library collections.-- Marcia G. Fuchs, Guilford Free Lib., Ct. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1990-11-30:
A 27-year-old ``without any language'' when she first met him in a Los Angeles school for the deaf, Ildefonso (a pseudonym) is the subject of Schaller's triumphant story. The author, adept in American Sign Language, often served as an interpreter for the deaf but had never encountered a language-less deaf adult. How she brought Ildefonso into the world of language is in the mode of the Helen Keller-Annie Sullivan relationship. Schaller and Ildefonso became friends, each committed to the uncertain goal of a breakthrough in communication that began unpromisingly with the sign for the word ``cat.'' Through arduous, patient searching for ways to reach her student's obviously receptive intellect, Schaller helped him grasp the concept of language, and progress, through maddeningly slow, began. This poignant, astonishing, exciting case history touches on many linguistic, philosophic and educational matters and raises questions not only about teaching the deaf but about the ways people learn. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summaries
Long Description
For more than a quarter of a century, Ildefonso, a Mexican Indian, lived in total isolation, set apart from the rest of the world. He wasn't a political prisoner or a social recluse, he was simply born deaf and had never been taught even the most basic language. Susan Schaller, then a twenty-four-year-old graduate student, encountered him in a class for the deaf where she had been sent as an interpreter and where he sat isolated, since he knew no sign language. She found him obviously intelligent and sharply observant but unable to communicate, and she felt compelled to bring him to a comprehension of words. A Man without Wordsvividly conveys the challenge, the frustrations, and the exhilaration of opening the mind of a congenitally deaf person to the concept of language.
Main Description
For more than a quarter of a century, Ildefonso, a Mexican Indian, lived in total isolation, set apart from the rest of the world. He wasn't a political prisoner or a social recluse, he was simply born deaf and had never been taught even the most basic language. Susan Schaller, then a twenty-four-year-old graduate student, encountered him in a class for the deaf where she had been sent as an interpreter and where he sat isolated, since he knew no sign language. She found him obviously intelligent and sharply observant but unable to communicate, and she felt compelled to bring him to a comprehension of words. A Man without Words vividly conveys the challenge, the frustrations, and the exhilaration of opening the mind of a congenitally deaf person to the concept of language.
Unpaid Annotation
A Man Without Words is a beautiful and meticulous study of this languageless man, Ildefonso, and of Schaller's patient, dedicated, and brilliantly conceived efforts to make contact with him and to introduce him to language.

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