Deaf children in Nicaragua create new language

BoingBoing reader Prodigal Tom says, "This is a fascinating article about deaf and totally neglected children in Nicaragua inventing their own sign language. I was also psyched because I learned there is an actual job called a psycholinguist! There's also a great point about how the language has evolved, so the younger members have a slightly different version than the originators." Link to Reuters synopsis, and Link to Science Magazine article, which appears to be available only to paid subscribers. (Thanks also to Mike Oliveri and others who pointed us to this item)

Update: BoingBoing reader jd says, "This story is a fascinating one – but it originally hit the mainstream media world back in 1999 in the New York Times. Here's the story (featuring Noam Chomsky, as well!) — A Linguistic Big Bang (Link)."

Update 2: Reader Paul Camp of the Spelman College Department of Physics in Georgia says,

Yet another update: this story is way older than either of your current sources. I remember reading about it in The Language
Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language
by MIT psycholinguist Stephen Pinker (which you and everyone else should read), published in 1994.

In fact, Pinker makes a case that this mechanism is how pidgins become creoles generally. Pidgins are work languages without significant grammatical structure, created by adults who speak different native languages. But children have a critical developmental period when they are learning language and imposing what appear to be innate grammatical structures on the language-like things in their environment (Chomsky's Universal Grammar). Pinker describes several examples of the process, including the Nicaraguan children as well as American Sign Language, and several verbal creoles.