The universal language is in our minds
As a deaf person in a hearing world, “I am bound to negotiate in the realm of non-verbal communication,” says UC Berkeley linguistics lecturer Patrick Boudreault. “I’m adept at communication with anyone, every day of my life — people who know sign or don’t know sign.”
Born deaf to deaf parents, Boudreault’s first languages were Quebec Sign Language, then French, which he learned to read and write as a child. He added English and American Sign Language to his repertoire in his early teens. In introducing himself to students, he adds that he’s married to a Russian woman whose native languages are Russian and Russian Sign Language.
I meet a lot of people and sometimes they ask, “what are your dreams like?” I have to smile. Of course, that depends on the individual! “But, are you signing in your dreams? Speaking? Processing thought conceptually?” And my answer is, it depends…but from my perspective, language is a fluid thing. Whether it’s spoken or signed, it always starts as a fluid thing inside your head. So, maybe the only place a universal language will happen is in our minds, not our hands or our mouths.