- Not Exactly Rocket Science
New Nicaraguan sign language shows how language affects thought
In the 1970s, a group of deaf Nicaraguan schoolchildren invented a new language. The kids were the first to enrol in Nicaragua’s new wave of special education schools. At first, they struggled with the schools’ focus on Spanish and lip-reading, but they found companionship in each other. It was the first time that deaf people from all over the country could gather in large numbers and through their interactions – in the schoolyard and the bus – Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) spontaneously came into being.
NSL is not a direct translation of Spanish – it is a language in its own right, complete with its own grammar and vocabulary. Its child inventors created it naturally by combining and adding