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Le Langage Gestuel: Analyse de sa Structure et de Son Incidence Sur Le Développement De L’Enfant Sourd


Jésus Alegria

Laboratoire de Psychologie expérimentale Avenue Adolphe Buyl 117 1050 Bruxelles, BE
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Je remercie Messieurs Pierre François et Jacques Dormont qui pratiquent le langage gestuel, ainsi que Bill Moody, interprète gestuel-oral en ASL, pour le grand nombre de renseignements qu’ils m’ont Tournis. Je remercie également Eliane Noirot dont les commentaires m’ont permi d’améliorer une version précédente du travail. Finalement, j’adresse mes remerciements à un groupe de psychologues constitués de Messieurs Deltour Jean-Jacques, Magerotte Ghislain, Nerdeland Pierre, Schrôder Anton et Skinkel Raymond qui ont largement discuté ce travail et se proposent de le diffuser afin de susciter la discussion.

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[Sign Language: Analysis of its Structure and its Incidence on the Deaf Child’s Development]


Deaf childrens’ education at present time is mainly oriented towards the acquisition of speech. This pedagogical option is founded on a number of ideas. In this paper we discuss two of them which seem particularly important. First, the sign system of communication spontaneously used by deaf people is usually supposed not to have a genuine linguistic status. As a consequence, it is systematically excluded from the deafs’ school. The work we examine here shows that the sign language has the same structural characteristics as oral languages. Similarities between oral and sign languages also appear at the level of processes of acquisition. The second point discussed here concerns the idea that using signs to communicate would divert the efforts which deaf children should orient towards learning to speak. Empirical evidence shows that this is false. Deaf children exposed to sign language from birth appear to be more competent for oral tasks than those exposed to oral language (even in the case where the latter group has received an early and intensive oral training). The conclusion is that the exposure to sign language from birth allows the normal development of linguistic dispositions shared by all human beings and that it permits satisfactory communication experiences with the environment. These factors facilitate the integration of deaf children into the community of both deaf and hearing people.

How to Cite: Alegria, J., 1979. Le Langage Gestuel: Analyse de sa Structure et de Son Incidence Sur Le Développement De L’Enfant Sourd. Psychologica Belgica, 19(1), pp.1–18. DOI:
Published on 01 Jan 1979.
Peer Reviewed


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