If a person is born deaf, which language do they think in? (Giordon Stark)

This answer to the question posed above on Quora, written by Giordon Stark (who was born deaf, and who incidentally has a pretty nice piece on a layperson introduction to the Feynman integral – his standard for “layperson” being pretty high), is pretty interesting:

I was born deaf. I did have speech therapy at an early age, and growing up, my inner voice is figuratively speaking to me and I hear it as well as lipread it. This is the same voice that I imagine people have when they read blocks of text andhear in their head. I don’t exactly see some creepy “Voldemort” face in my head, but I always have some image of lips moving along with a voice that Ihear.

At the same time, I do have memories of when I was little and didn’t speak at all, and all my memories were heavily visual and olfactory. I would always remember specific images of locations and could describe them to my parents in vivid detail trying to figure out what I was remembering. Before speech therapy – my inner voice was highly visual.

Now, as I’m learning/studying sign language in my free time, I’m finding that my inner voice has grown hands as well and I sometimes read things and hear a voice, lip read, and see signs all at the same time. I would expect that a similar experience happens with those who are bilingual/multilingual and sometimes hear all languages at once when reading a text, or perhaps sometimes it switches languages in their heads (although it is a little different because they would hear in whatever language they’re reading in for example).

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