LAFON 55A THE PRIMARY HEARING (road to language) part 15

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I will inevitably get to use the term “language” in the duality of its meaning: language as a system of words used in conventional ways for communication, and language as the production of sounds by the vocal apparatus leading to speech. Can both meanings be considered as analogue?

As you would expect, the answer is: NO.


 « The language fluency is based on the phonetic transition, which is the most consistent element of spoken or perceived speech: the language is a physiological system and, as such, it is an individual system” (1). There are, at least, 600 different phonetic transitions. The language is an INDIVIDUAL phenomenon, everybody develop their OWN language.

« A language and the oral expressions of it reflect how much one is forged by this collective language and how it is used for communication, obviously, but also how it is used to generate ideas that will be expressed – or not. The latter mechanisms are called “verbal thought”(2).

«The language belongs to our inner self, and speech is used to express it. But speech is not the language itself »(3). The spoken language is a code that every individual uses to build up their own language.

The language is a psycho-physiological function that is expressed through speech at various degrees of hierarchy: phonetic sentence, syllabus, articulatory and acoustic transition, place of articulation. It relies on the expression system of a human community, it is an individual feature used as a foundation for the elaboration of thought, which cannot occur without it. The so-called inner language does not involve any sound emission, it is a mental transposition of images suggested by acoustic messages. It allows individual conscience to open up towards thought through a framing that outlines the generation of ideas”(4).

« Language grows from communication, and thus, from the elaboration of concepts based on a language canvas »(5).

« We, audio prosthetists, provide hearing-impaired human beings (from children to the elderly) with hearing aids and thus, we allow them to escape from “a condition of isolation that denies them the only feature that can only be found in humans: the language”(6). Audio prosthetist really is a great profession, it deserves to be practiced seriously.

« A slight deafness only results in a delayed language acquisition in inherently less-talented children.

Moderate deafness, the threshold of which is located between 40 and 70 decibels (dB) for conversational speech frequencies, will definitely cause a language delay but very gifted children manage to structure the missing information through lip-reading: they thus display, during examination, a spontaneous language that does not correlate with their hearing threshold.

The language is the main issue faced by deaf children. Deaf children who acquired language interact with others, can communicate, they will become teenagers who can be trained to the job they like, and they will live a normal adult social life”(7).


We will use poetry to demonstrate the fundamental, spiritual role of language and its indissociably linked aesthetics or affective symbolic function. First, we will borrow the expressive power of the French philosophical poet Pierre Emmanuel: “the language impersonates every move of the soul. It doesn’t only embody them: it provokes them, defines them, guide them and rise them up to conscience. It constitutes the spirit. Out of this creative activity, the verb is both the tool and the material. Something is occurring in my inner self while I speak: the work is changing me while I am changing it. There is no lifeless theme in me, there isn’t any in her either (Pierre EMMANUEL “Le goût de l’Un” page 173)”(8).

Pierre Emmanuel 1916 – 1984: French poet, Journalist, Academician, President of I.N.A. (French National Audiovisual Institute). Further information can be found here (French only):


(1) Professeur J.C. LAFON « le test phonétique et la mesure de l’audition » (« the phonetic test and the measurement of hearing »), page 229.

(2) Professeur J.C. LAFON « intelligibilité phonétique & acoustique » (« acoustic-phonetic correlates of intelligibility »), Bulletin d’Audiophonologie, 1979, N°5, Volume 9, page 12.

(3) Professeur J.C. LAFON « l’enfant sourd avant trois ans » Enjeu et embûches de l’éducation précoce (« Deafness in children under 3 years old » Challenges and pitfalls of early education), international conference acta, A.N.P.E.D.A. organiser, Paris, 2-4 November 1979, page 145.

(4) Professeur J.C. LAFON « le test phonétique et la mesure de l’audition » (« the phonetic test and the measurement of hearing »), page 54.

(5) Professeur J.C. LAFON « les enfants déficients auditifs » (« hearing-impaired children »), page 98.

(6) Professeur J.C. LAFON « amplification compensée » (« amplification with a counterbalanced order »), Bulletin d’Audiophonologie N°2, 1971, Volume 1, page 125.

(7) Professeur J.C. LAFON « amplification compensée » (« amplification with a counterbalanced order »), Bulletin d’Audiophonologie N°2, 191, Volume 1, pp. 140-141.

(8) Professeur J.C. LAFON « audition et langage en 1968 » (« hearing and language in 1968), page 29.

Jean-Yves MICHEL

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LAFON 81 EN DIRECT DE 1994 (9)

dim Sep 23 , 2018
donne ton avis [Total : 0   Moyenne : 0/5] Share on Facebook Tweet it Share on Google Pin it Email Nous sommes fin mai 1994. Je suis tout heureux car j’ai réussi à obtenir du Professeur Jean-Claude LAFON qu’il intervienne durant deux jours au siège parisien de l’entreprise pour laquelle je travaille. Une petite dizaine d’Audioprothésistes […]