South African Linguist Question

From: Bryan Bashin (
Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 10:46:11 PST

Hello Listers,

The following forwarded message was sent to me by a linguist friend and I
thought many of you might enjoy writing to Mr. Sekwati.

The message was originally posted to the LINGUIST list.

Mr. Sekwati's e-mail address is:


--Bryan Bashin
---------- Forwarded message ----------

>LINGUIST List: Vol-8-133. Thu Jan 30 1997. ISSN: 1068-4875.
>-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------
>Date: Sat, 11 Jan 1997 14:10:51 +0200
>From: Welcome Sekwati <>
>Subject: Some Info on communication between the blind and the sighted.
>My name is Welcome Sekwati and I work for the Department of Central
>Statistics in South Africa. My main interest lies in linguistics and
>I hold an MA degree from Durham University. It is my plan to go back to
>the academic world where I used to be before joining the public sector.
>Therefore, to keep abreast with the latest developments within the
>discipline, I write papers.
> A lot of data has been gathered around the issue whether visual
>perception is so fundamental to language development that its absence
>would result in certain deviations. What has emerged as commonground
>is that the language of visually impaired children does vary to some
>degree from that of their sighted peers. My interest though, lies in
>exploring into the communication gap that undoubtedly exists between
>blind people and sighted people.
> We know that in its functional context language moves beyond the
>level of words to encompass gestures, facial expressions and other
>forms of paralinguistic features most of which are non-existent within
>the linguistic idiolect of the blind. The absence of these fundamental
>elements of language whose occurrence in a communicative context is
>as automatic as a reflex action results in an almost irreparable
>transmission gap. Based on that, I claim therefore that a communicative
>discourse between the blind and the sighted is almost always
>characterised by a constant transmission failure exactly as in a
>psychiatric patient whose two sides of the brain cannot communicate
>because of a damaged corpus callosum Just as a piece of anecdotal
>evidence consider for instance, what to all blind people constitutes the
>most embarrassing communicative situation; a sudden outburst of
>laughter from amongst the sighted of which the blind seated in their midst
>does not know the cause.
> I'd be interested to hear from anyone interested in: 1. The of
>paralinguistic features in a communicative context; and 2. how the blind
>relate to the sighted in a communicative set-up.
>Thank you.

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