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Reviews

Praise for Talking Hands:


"Fascinating." -- Washington Post Book World


"Elegantly written. ... A masterly and accessible overview of sign languages and research into them over the past half century." -- Nature


"An exhaustive, energetic and frequently elegant tour through the world of sign language and sign linguistics. I know of no other book in this field that covers so much ground so comprehensively and with such care. ... Fox's writing is clear and cogent, informed by the quiet passion of a natural teacher for her subject."
-- The New York Times Book Review


"This is a captivating and important book, minutely researched and vividly narrated, about an isolated Bedouin village where hearing and deaf people alike communicate in sign language. Such situations are increasingly rare and precious. Fox's book will be fascinating to anyone interested in the nature of human language or indeed in cognitive neuroscience." -- Oliver Sacks, M.D.


"An astonishing true story engrossingly told. ... Fox seems uniquely suited to unravel the mysteries of a place where people speak a signed language unlike any other in the world. ... A fascinating and unique travelogue, and Fox paints a vivid picture of the different personalities of many of the residents and of their traditions and lifestyle."
-- The Associated Press


"An absorbing true story. ... Fox describes the dusty, remote village and its distinctive interactions in full-color, and also looks at the connection between language and workings of the mind. In accessible detail, she reports on sign-language linguistics, from the history of American Sign Language to the psychology of sign language, and the inborn capacity to create language." -- The Jewish Week


"Fox achieves an admirable balance between comprehensibility and technical sophistication. I can strongly recommend the book to anyone who wants to gain a better appreciation of how sign language works."
-- American Scientist


"We are well past the point in history where it is possible for a new spoken language to develop without the influence of other languages. What is so fascinating about Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), as the village's sign language is officially called, is that it was born with no apparent influence from any language at all. ... For now, at least, a unique sign language integrates everyone into a single community, whether they can hear or not." -- The Wall Street Journal


"A fascinating read for linguists and lay readers alike written in a style that is both accessible and poetic." -- BookBrowse (www.bookbrowse.com)



"Ms. Fox has done a masterful job of utilizing her journalistic competence and sensibilities as regards the Bedouin Signing Village she visited with four renowned linguists studying the development of an indigenous sign language in the village. Further, she has provided the lay reader with a scholarly and intelligible historical review of sign languages and how they have come to be regarded. I would recommend this volume to anyone who has an intellectual curiosity about languages."
-- James J. DeCaro, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, New York



"The author has taken great pains to explain everything in a way that the layman can understand without dumbing anything down. This is a fascinating study." -- Bookfetish (www.bookfetish.org)


"The world of sign languages and cognitive research comes to life in this story of a remote Israeli village that's become a test bed for understanding how the human brain processes language. New York Times reporter Fox follows researchers, led by University of Haifa professor Wendy Sandler, to the Bedouin village of Al-Sayyid, where isolation, genetics and inbreeding have led to a higher than usual percentage of deafness in the population. In response, the villagers have created a home-brew sign language used by both the hearing and deaf. By studying this unique language, Sandler and her cohort hope to gain deeper insight into how the brain acquires and uses language. Chapters alternate between the painstaking work in Al-Sayyid and a history of sign language itself. Both are gracefully reinforced with vivid examples, from the early insistence of 'experts' that proper sign language must produce words in one-to-one correspondence with spoken language to a lively gathering in Al-Sayyid where conversation flows freely in six languages: English, Hebrew, Arabic, American Sign Language, Israeli Sign Language and the local sign language. Fox takes readers on a fascinating tour of deaf communication, clearly explaining difficult concepts, and effortlessly introducing readers to a silent world where communication is anything but slow and awkward."
-- Publishers Weekly