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of the Nicaraguan dictator. Instructors noticed that the children had learned little from their Spanish lessons but had developed a system of signs for talking to one another. Each generation of kids taught it to the next, and the language has rapidly evolved from a set of gestures into a sophisticated language with its own syntax.

The Al-Sayyid clan consists of some 3,500 people descended from a single founder who arrived 200 years ago from Egypt and married a local woman. Since the third generation, marriage within the clan has been encouraged, so there is a considerable level of inbreeding. Two of the couple's five sons were deaf, as are about 150 members of the community today. The clan's village is isolated in part by geography and even more by social barriers, since other Bedouin look down on them. Its deaf members did not go to school until recently and so were not exposed to either Israeli or Jordanian sign languages. They developed their own, and the language is also used by their

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