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Georges: <<It would probably be easier to learn *to read* Chinese if it used
an alphabetic script, but that doesn't affect how easy or hard it is to
learn to speak.  Reading and writing are different skill from speaking and
listening.>>
But it is easier to learn how to pronounce words when you read phonological
text, so your speaking is also improving faster by reading a phonological
alphabet. But I understand what you're saying. 

Georges: <<I do see your point, however, on how switching modalities would
cause some problems in learning a new language.  Would these hypothetical
ASL-only humans have difficulty with a spoken language?  I don't know.  To
some extent, I think it may be a moot point -- hearing humans who only speak
a sign language is highly unlikely.  In fact, considering that I have only
heard of sign languages arising where there are significant numbers of Deaf
individuals, it may well be that humans default to using spoken languages
when possible, probably because of the inherent advantages of auditory
communication (you don't have to be facing the speaker, for example -- and
it can be understood over longer distances).>>
Can't sign language communicate over longer distance than spoken language?
Well, maybe not in a dense forest. Anyway, I also wonder why we end up
speaking with the mouth and not with the arms; maybe it's because we needed
to use our arms more often than our mouth for non-language relating things.
But that makes me think... (see point below)

Another hypothetical situation could be the opposite. 1000 people that have
a spoken language and that get a virus that will make all of them deaf in 30
days, so they decide to create a sign language. How would that end up? We
could actually do this experiment in real life with let's say 50 people
(which might have results different than with 1000 people) and then after 30
days we cover there ears so they cannot hear and let them start
communicating only with signs (and consciously or unconsciously trying to
improve the language) for another 30 days. However, we would need very
committed people, and these would probably be people more interested in
languages than the average person, so the results might be a little bit bias
there, but that would still be interesting IMO. In fact, we could do that on
an ever smaller scale for entertaining purpose: let's say 5 people (that
don't know any signs language) meeting for 10 days (5 days to create a
language and 5 days speaking it). Who wants to do that with me? :)

-Mathieu