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This more complex sign language is now known as Idioma de Señas de Nicaragua (ISN).

ISN offers a rare opportunity to study the emergence of a new language.

In 1980, a vocational school for deaf adolescents was opened in the area of Managua called Villa Libertad.

By 1983, there were over 400 deaf students enrolled in the two schools.

Staff at the school, unaware of the development of this new language, saw the children's gesturing as mime and as a failure to acquire Spanish.

Unable to understand what the children were saying to each other, they asked for outside help.In June 1986, the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education contacted Judy Kegl, an American Sign Language linguist from MIT.As Kegl and other researchers began to analyze the language, they noticed that the young children had taken the pidgin-like form of the older children to a higher level of complexity, with verb agreement and other conventions of grammar.Spatial modulations can perform functions including "indicating person or number; providing deictic, locative, or temporal information; or indicating grammatical relationships".In the article written by Senghas and Coppola, they explore spatial modulation as it occurs in ISN.Senghas and Coppola have noted that signers who learned ISN before the Extensive Contact Period (before 1983) were inconsistent in whether an event was represented as rotated or reflected (unrotated) in the signing space.If the signer was watching an event where a man on the signer's left gave an object to a woman on the signer's right, it was at random (when the signer reiterated the scene) whether or not the signer would use spatial modulation to mark left and right based on his view from in front of the scene or as if the signer were facing the same way as the actors in the scene."We've been able to see how it is that children—not adults—generate language, and we have been able to record it happening in great scientific detail.And it's the only time that we've actually seen a language being created out of thin air." Since 1990, other researchers (including Ann Senghas, Marie Coppola, Richard Senghas, Laura Polich, and Jennie Pyers) have begun to study and report on the development of this unique language and its community.Before ISN, studies of the early development of languages had focused on creoles, which develop from the mixture of two (or more) distinct communities of fluent speakers.In contrast, ISN was developed by a group of young people with only non-conventional home sign systems and gesture.


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