Former pupil Professor Anne Baker was welcomed back to Talbot Heath School last week to speak during the senior school assembly about sign language. The Professor of Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam, who left Talbot Heath in 1965, spoke about her specialism explaining how each country has its own sign language and demonstrated some of the differences. She addressed the school as part of the ‘Learning for Life Lectures’ regularly organised for the pupils and described how the structure of sentences differs in sign language. The Professor spoke about iconicity – the use of specific signs that represent the action and noun, and also showed how people were able to sign in the dark by feeling the signs that were being used by others. The lecture offered a fascinating insight into the development of sign language.
Afterwards she spoke with a number of pupils who were interested in finding out more about signing, either to pursue a career in audiology or linguistics, and went into more depth regarding the study of linguistics and her work with the deaf community.
Professor Baker was knighted by the King of Netherlands earlier this year in recognition of her academic work in linguistics and also for the huge contribution that she has made to the deaf community and those with language difficulties. The school will be running British sign language courses in the near future for pupils, staff and parents following Professor Baker’s visit.