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Excerpts

Introduction

The narrative sections of this book document a journey to a remarkable place: an isolated Middle Eastern village whose inhabitants “speak” sign language—a language unlike any other in the world, witnessed by few outsiders and never before described. For the last several years, a team of four linguists, two from the United States and two from Israel, has been working in the village, documenting this extraordinary language and, little by little, deciphering it.

 

CHAPTER 1: In the Village of the Deaf

The house is a lighted island in a sea of gathering dark. The sun has just gone down, and the desert breeze blowing in through the large open windows is cooler now. Outside, just beyond the house, fields of yellow stubble give way to a flat expanse of sand and scrub that stretches toward the distant hills ringing the horizon. A band of vermilion hangs above the hills, and above that, the sky is an inverted bowl of deep turquoise.