Introduction to Proposed Experimental Cueing

Orin Cornett’s invention and development of Cued Speech in the 1960’s quickly became international. Hand signals representing consonant-vowel syllables enable visual coding of any spoken language. In American English eight handshapes represent consonant phonemes and four hand placements represent vowels.

Linguistic accomplishments of children with severe to profound congenital hearing impairments have repeatedly demonstrated that, with cueing, the children decoded spoken languages in a normal developmental time frame.

Proposals for new handshapes and hand placements designed to convey information about clustered phonemes all require experimental studies. NCSA cue notation and funetik spelling, as well as preferred spellings, pronunciations and sample words from Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Dictionary (2006) are used to describe the proposals. Words with high usage such as from through question are included even though the phoneme clusters fr thr kw occur relatively infrequently. Three-phoneme clusters like skr spl are also assigned one handshape.

Objections that handshapes for consonant clusters undermine the phonemic basis of Cued Speech are addressed in questions. Alternative hand placements for ie ou ay oi are described in vowels. The proposed use of one cue for syllables like shuhn are presented in CVC one cue. Systematic use of one cue for repeated phonemes in utterances like night time and not to is urged in assimilation.

Although they stand squarely on the shoulders of the alphabet, cues may actually be hampered by association to the alphabet, – an observation supported by illiterate young deaf children who have learned their native languages before knowing how to read print. Utterances of two or more words may be a necessary condition for experimental treatment of the proposals.

The purpose of this series of proposals is to decrease the rate of moves in cued American English. This would, in turn, make the rhythm of cues correspond more closely to fluent speech, possibly resulting in a wider appreciation of cueing.

The proposals are addressed to anyone who knows and loves Cued Speech and is willing to experiment with the work that can be done with experimental hand shapes and hand positions. Conventional and experimental cueing can be used interchangeably.

Resistance to linguistic change is well known. Valuing what we have should not preclude willingness to consider improvements through experimentation.

Robin Prescott
26 August.2015


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