手语一度成为禁忌,听障人士被要求出声说话
2020-07-11

手语一度成为禁忌,听障人士被要求出声说话

「聋人」(Deaf,字首大写)指的是一种文化,而「听障」(deaf,全小写)则是病理学名词,两者截然不同。这样的差异和同志(gay)及同性恋(homosexual)相互呼应。越来越多的听障人士表示,自己不会选择当听人。在他们看来,把听障当成疾病来治疗,令人嫌恶;将听障当成障碍来适应,比较可以接受;把听障当成文化来讚颂,才是王道。

保罗在圣经的〈罗马书〉中称:「信道是从听道来的。」此话长期以来一直被误解为听不到的人便无法信道,罗马教廷也不准无法告解的人继承财产或头衔。051 因此,从十五世纪开始,某些近亲通婚的贵族就让听障的孩子学习口语,不过大部分听障人士还是得依赖自己制定的基本手语生活。在都市环境中,这类基本手语发展出比较完整的系统。

十八世纪中叶,德雷佩神父献身为巴黎穷困的听障人士服务,他也是最早学习这种手语的听人之一。他用手语解释法文,教导听障人士读书写字,也揭开了解放的序幕:你不需要口语能力,也能学会口语世界的语言。德雷佩神父于一七五五年成立「巴黎聋校」。十九世纪初,康乃狄克州的高立德牧师对于听障孩童的教育产生兴趣,因此前往英格兰,希望了解听障教学法。英格兰人告诉他,教导聋人口语的方法是不传之秘,于是他又转往法国,在巴黎聋校获得盛情接待。之后他请了一位听障的青年罗伦.克雷陪他回美国开办学校。

一八一七年,两人在康乃狄克州的哈特佛建立「美国聋人教育庇护所」。此后五十年为黄金时期,法国的手语结合美国本土手语及玛莎葡萄园岛上的地方手语(当地有听障遗传的家族),成为「美国手语」。听障人士开始写书、站上公众舞台,有各式各样的成就。

一八五七年,华盛顿特区成立「高立德学院」,目的是让听障人士接受高等教育。林肯总统授权高立德学院颁发学位。听障人士一具有表达能力,就有人要求他们出声说话。加拿大发明家贝尔便发起十九世纪支持口语教育的运动,运动越演越烈,在一八八○年米兰会议达到高峰──该会正式宣布禁止「比手画脚」(manualism,手语的贬词)。贝尔的母亲和妻子都是听障,但他贬抑手语,称之为「默剧」。他也无法接受「聋人也是一支种族」的观念,还创立了「美国听障口语教学协会」,希望能禁止听障人士通婚,也隔绝听障学生和其他听障学生的接触。他要求听障成人绝育,也说服部分听人父母为听障孩子结扎。爱迪生也跟随这波潮流,推动完全的口语教育。莱辛顿成立的时候,听人希望能教听障人士说话、读唇语,如此他们才能在「真实世界」中生活。052

这样的梦想越走越偏,最后一发不可收拾,而现代的聋人文化就是在这样的严重错误中孕育而生。

一战之前,约有八十%的听障儿童只能接受口语教学,此后半世纪一直如此。曾使用手语的听障教师突然遭解僱。支持口语的人士认为手语会干扰孩子学习英语,孩子若在口语学校比手语,手上就要挨一记排尺。

维迪茨是「美国全国聋人协会」的前任会长,他于一九一三年提出抗议,说:「『又一派不识约瑟的法老』[1]正逐渐掌握我国。与手语为敌的,便是与听障者的福祉为敌。希望吾辈皆能爱护并捍卫自己美丽的手语,视之为神赐予聋人最高贵的礼物。」当时听障人士被视为低能,也因此英文「dumb」(喑哑)一词也用来形容「愚蠢」──殊不知他们之所以处处受限,正是由于他们的语言受到打压否定。听障权利运动分子布德侯曾把口语教育比拟为将同性恋「变成正常人」的转化疗法,一种社会达尔文主义的丑恶暴力。不过,虽然有上述种种负面发展,校园仍然是聋人文化的摇篮。

据说海伦.凯勒曾评论道:「失明让我们与世隔绝,失聪却让我们与人隔绝。」对许多听障人士而言,用手语沟通的意义还大于耳聋。比手语的人即便能使用听人世界的语言,仍深爱自己的语言。作家戴维斯是「聋父母的听小孩」,也是障碍研究的教授,他写道:「直至今日,我用手语比出『牛奶』,仍比说出这个词更能感受牛奶的质地。手语就像翩翩起舞的口语,是手指跟脸不断跳着双人芭蕾。不懂手语的人看着手语的动作,觉得十分隔阂、不细腻。懂手语的人,却能看见每个手语中最细緻的意涵。有些听人喜欢感受字词之间的淡浓深浅,例如:乾、乾燥、乾旱、乾荒、脱水。同样的差异,手语的动作也有,听障人士也同样能细细品味。贾姬曾说:「不论是公开或私下,我们总是打手语。没有理论能让我们的语言消失。」056

根据定义,听障是发生率很低的障碍。据统计,每千名新生儿当中有一名是重度听障,听力受损较轻微的人数则是两倍。另外还有大约二到三‰会在十岁前失去听力。推动听障权利的帕顿和汉夫瑞斯写道:「有了文化,聋人就能够重新想像自己,不再只是想方设法适应现在,而是能够继承过去。有了文化,他们不再觉得自己是未完成的听人,而是一群有语言、有文化的人,且住在共同的世界里。有了文化,他们就有了理由,足以与他人一起生存在现代世界中。」

长久以来,听障总伴随着羞耻感。路易斯.默金是演员也是剧作家,他和贾姬一样,童年时期也不断和这种羞耻感角力。他说道:「从小到大,看到这些底层的听障人士活在边缘、无足轻重,只能相濡以沫。他们没受过教育,觉得自己是次等人。我不断退缩。一想到自己的耳聋,我就厌恶。我花了很久时间才明白当『聋人』是什幺意思,此后,一个新世界豁然展开。」路易斯也是同志。「我见过阴柔的变装皇后,还有穿皮衣的男同志,我再次觉得,那不是我。我花了一段时间才找到真正的同志认同。」在高立德大学教授美国手语及听障研究的比安维努教授告诉我:「我们的经验实在太类似,如果你是聋人,你几乎就能完全知道身为同性恋的感受,反之亦然。」

051 The story of Gallaudet University is told in Brian H. Greenwald and John Vickrey Van Cleve, A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: The Role of Gallaudet University in Deaf History (2010).

051 Alexander Graham Bell set forth his proposals in “Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race,” a paper presented to the National Academy of Sciences on November 13, 1883, and published in the 1884 Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences; and in “Historical notes concerning the teaching of speech to the deaf,” Association Review 2 (February 1900).

051 Thomas Edison’s interest in the oralist movement sprang in part from his experience as a hearing-impaired person. Edison served for a time as a member of the Advisory Board of the Volta Bureau, the organization founded by Alexander Graham Bell to promote education in “speech reading, speech and hearing” to the deaf; see John A. Ferrall’s article “Floating on the wings of silence with Beethoven, Kitto, and Edison,” Volta Review 23 (1921), pages 295–96.

051 Bell and the ascendancy of oralism are discussed in Douglas C. Baynton, Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign against Sign Language (1996); Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Inside Deaf Culture (2005); and John Vickrey Van Cleve, Deaf History Unveiled: Interpretations from the New Scholarship (1999).

052 The quotation from George Veditz appears in Carol Padden and Tom Humphries, Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988), page 36.

052 Patrick Boudreault is an assistant professor at California State University, Northridge. All quotations from Boudreault come from my interview with him in 2008 and subsequent communications.

052 Aristotle’s conclusions about the comparative intelligence of the deaf and the blind were set forth in The History of Animals and On Sense and the Sensible. Aristotle contended that “of persons destitute from birth of either sense, the blind are more intelligent than the deaf and dumb” because “rational discourse is a cause of instruction in virtue of its being audible.” These quotations occur at Sense and Sensibilia 437a, 3–17, on page 694 of The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revise Oxford Translation, edited by J. Barnes (1984).

052 William Stokoe’s Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf was originally published in 1960 by the University of Buffalo’s Department of Anthropology and Linguistics and was reprinted in the Journal of Deaf Studies & Deaf Education 10, no. 1 (Winter 2005).

052 Hemispheric lateralization and sign language are discussed by Oliver Sacks in Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf (1989), pages 93–111; and in Heather P. Knapp and David P. Corina’s chapter, “Cognitive and neural representations of language: Insights from sign languages of the deaf,” in Kristin A. Lindgren et al., Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts (2008), pages 77–89.

052 The effect of left-hemisphere damage on the ability to produce Sign is the subject of Ursula Bellugi et al., “Language, modality, and the brain,” in Brain Development and Cognition, edited by M. H. Johnson (1993); and Gregory Hickock, Tracy Love-Geffen, and Edward S. Klima, “Role of the left hemisphere in sign language comprehension,” Brain & Language 82, no. 2 (August 2002).

052 Studies demonstrating that people who learn Sign in adulthood tend to use the visual part of their brain more include Madeleine Keehner and Susan E. Gathercole, “Cognitive adaptations arising from nonnative experience of sign language in hearing adults,” Memory & Cognition 35, no 4 (June 2007).

056 Figures on the incidence of deafness come from “Quick statistics” on the website of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick.htm.

056 The quotation from Carol Padden and Tom Humphries (“Culture provides a way for Deaf people to reimagine themselves…”) appears in Inside Deaf Culture (2005), page 161.

056 The Gallaudet protests were extensively covered by the mass media; one representative article is Lena Williams, “College for deaf is shut by protest over president,” New York Times, March 8, 1988. The Deaf President Now! story has since been told in depth in Jack Gannon, The Week the World Heard Gallaudet (1989); Katherine A. Jankowski, Deaf Empowerment: Emergence, Struggle, and Rhetoric (1997); and John B. Christiansen and Sharon N. Barnartt, Deaf President Now!: The 1988 Revolution at Gallaudet University (2003).