Deaf-mute


Deaf-mute

For "deafness", see hearing impairment. For "Deaf" as a cultural term, see Deaf culture. For "inability to speak", see muteness.

Deaf-mute is a term which was used historically to identify a person who was both deaf and could not speak. The term continues to be used to refer to deaf people, mainly within a historical context, to indicate deaf people who cannot speak, or have some degree of speaking ability, but choose not to speak because of the negative or unwanted attention atypical voices sometimes attract. Such people communicate using sign language while the use of sign languages is not limited to those people.[1] Some consider it to be a derogatory term if used outside its historical context; the preferred term today is simply "deaf".[2]

Additionally, it is sometimes used to refer to other hearing people in jest, to chide, or to invoke an image of someone who refuses to employ common sense or who is unreliable. "Deaf and dumb,"[3] "semi-deaf" and "semi-mute" are other historic references to deaf people. Of these latter examples, only "deaf and dumb" prevails as a reference.

In the past deaf-mute was regarded as a socially acceptable term, usually to describe deaf people who use sign language, but in modern times, the term is frequently viewed as derogatory, insensitive, insulting, inaccurate or socially and politically incorrect.[4] From antiquity (as noted in the Code of Hammurabi) until recent times, the terms "deaf-mute" and "deaf and dumb" were even considered analogous to "stupid" by some hearing people.[5]

In Europe and Western society, most deaf people are taught to speak with varying outcomes of ability or degrees of fluency. The simple identity of "deaf" has been embraced by the community of signing deaf people since the foundations of public deaf education in the 18th century and remains the preferred term of reference or identity for many years. Within the deaf community there are some who prefer the term "Deaf" to "deaf" as a description of their status and identity.[6]

Classification as a deaf-mute has a particular importance in Jewish law; deaf-mutes were not moral agents, and therefore were unable to own real estate, act as witnesses, or be punished for any crime.[citation needed]

Deaf-muteness in art and literature

Stephen King's novel, The Stand, features a main character named Nick Andros who is referred to as "deaf-mute." Though deaf people almost always have a voice, King interpreted the term literally and made Nick unable to vocalize. However, he could read lips and make himself clearly understood by pantomiming and in writing.

The phrase is used in The Catcher in the Rye to indicate someone who does not speak his mind, and hears nothing, in effect becoming isolated from the world.

Chief Bromden, in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, is believed by all to be deaf and mute, but in fact he can hear and speak; he does not let anyone know this because, as he grew up, he was not spoken to (making him "deaf") and ignored (making him "mute").

The character Singer in the novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, written in 1940, is referred to as "deaf-mute" multiple times.

In the classic Zorro stories, television series, etc. Zorro's aid Bernardo, a mute, pretends that he can also not hear, in order to get information to aid his master in his fight for justice.

See also

References

  1. ^ Mindess, Anna (2006). Reading Between the Signs: Intercultural Communication for Sign Language Interpreters. ISBN 9781931930260
  2. ^ Moore, Matthew S. & Levitan, Linda (2003). For Hearing People Only, Answers to Some of the Most Commonly Asked Questions About the Deaf Community, its Culture, and the "Deaf Reality", Rochester, New York: Deaf Life Press, ISBN 0-9634016-3-7
  3. ^ Barquist, Barbara; Barquist, David (1987). "The Early Years". In Haley, Leroy. The Summit of Oconomowoc: 150 Years of Summit Town. Summit History Group. p. 47. 
  4. ^ What is Wrong with the Use of these Terms: "Deaf-mute", "Deaf and dumb", or "Hearing-impaired"?
  5. ^ Nancy Creighton. What is Wrong With the Use of The Terms: 'Deaf-mute', 'Deaf and dumb', or 'Hearingimpaired'?. National Association of the Deaf
  6. ^ Ladd, P. (2003). Understanding Deaf Culture. In Search of Deafhood. Toronto: Multilingual Matters.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • DEAF-MUTE — (Heb. חֵרֵשׁ, heresh), always classed in the Talmud together with the minor and the imbecile as being irresponsible and of no independent will, from which stem all the restrictions and exemptions applying to him, both in law and the performance… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • deaf mute — UK US noun [countable] [singular deaf mute plural deaf mutes] old fashioned someone who cannot hear or speak. This word is now considered offensive. Thesaurus: ear and hearing …   Useful english dictionary

  • deaf-mute — def myüt adj often offensive lacking the sense of hearing and the ability to speak deaf mute·ness n, sometimes offensive deaf mut·ism myüt .iz əm n, sometimes offensive deaf mute n often offensive a deaf person who cannot speak …   Medical dictionary

  • Deaf-mute — n. A person who is deaf and dumb; one who, through deprivation or defect of hearing, has either failed the acquire the power of speech, or has lost it. [See Illust. of {Dactylology}.] [1913 Webster] Deaf mutes are still so called, even when, by …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • deaf mute — ► NOUN ▪ a person who is deaf and unable to speak. USAGE In modern use deaf mute has acquired offensive connotations. It is advisable to avoid it in favour of other terms such as profoundly deaf …   English terms dictionary

  • deaf-mute — [def′myo͞ot΄] n. a person who is deaf, esp. from birth, and therefore unable to speak: most deaf mutes, having the necessary vocal organs, can be taught to speak adj. of or being a deaf mute …   English World dictionary

  • deaf-mute — deaf′ mute′ usage: See dumb off. adj. 1) pat unable to hear and speak 2) off pat a person who is unable to hear and speak, esp. one in whom inability to speak is due to congenital or early deafness • Etymology: 1830–40; trans. of F sourd muet… …   From formal English to slang

  • deaf-mute — deaf mute; deaf mute·ness; …   English syllables

  • deaf-mute — deaf mutes N COUNT A deaf mute is someone who cannot hear or speak. This word could cause offence …   English dictionary

  • deaf mute — is now regarded as derogatory because it implies an incapacity to communicate. It is safer to use neutral terms such as profoundly deaf …   Modern English usage

  • deaf mute — n old fashioned, not polite someone who is unable to hear or speak …   Dictionary of contemporary English


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.