from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Certain positions and motions of the hands and fingers, signifying the common alphabet, used by deafmutes. See deaf-mute.
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While Peregrine was thus engaged, his associate made his appearance in another convocation of fashionable people, where he soon had the pleasure of hearing the conjurer brought upon the carpet by an elderly gentlewoman, remarkable for her inquisitive disposition, who, addressing herself to Cadwallader, asked, by the help of the finger-alphabet, if he knew anything of the magician that made such a noise in town.
And let the pupils be required, in what they have to say to their teachers in the schoolroom or elsewhere, to employ the finger-alphabet instead of natural signs to the utmost possible extent, and this by complete sentences and not in a fragmentary way_.
And now let me say that I hope you will learn the finger-alphabet; so that, if you visit any of my little pupils, you can talk to them.
For a knowledge of intellectual development in the child possessed of all the senses, and of the great extent to which he is independent of verbal language in the formation of concepts, it is indispensable to make a collection of such concepts as uneducated deaf-mutes not acquainted either with the finger-alphabet or with articulation express by means of their own gestures in a manner intelligible to others.
As fast as he learned the finger-alphabet he had taught it to Donal, and, as already they had a good many symbols in use between them, so many indeed that Donal would often instead of speaking make use of signs, they had now the means of intercourse almost as free as if they had had between them two tongues instead of one.