Deafie/hearie Slang Origin?

LadyZephyr

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
40
Reaction score
10
This question popped up for me today while I was browsing the forums so I thought I'd ask for some insight... When or how did the words 'deafie' and 'hearie' pop up? Are these more recent slang from within say, the past ten years, or have they been around for a long time?

Also, I've been called a 'hearie' and it's definitely been wielded as an insult, but I've also seen other members use it just in casual conversation that was clearly not meant to be offensive. I've even seen at least one thread where a Deaf member was protesting the use of 'deafie' as something that grated on their nerves (part of the reason I'm thinking it's more of a modern slang). Why the disparity?
 

Bottesini

Old Deaf Ranter
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2008
Messages
43,648
Reaction score
504
ASL Deaf used to have a popular name for OraLDeaf, "spitters".

All this hullabaloo over hearing outrage over "Hearie", actually makes me chuckle.

In the old days much less was made of hearing people, nor their feelings really considered.

It's the new world of technology that has allowed all the present day interaction.
 

whatdidyousay!

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
29,363
Reaction score
804
I don't how deafie got started but I did post I was called this by 2 sisters and ex brother and this was in the 1950's
 

Bottesini

Old Deaf Ranter
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2008
Messages
43,648
Reaction score
504
I don't how deafie got started but I did post I was called this by 2 sisters and ex brother and this was in the 1950's
They were awfully ahead of their time. "Dummy" was the word thrown around to describe deaf.

Like Dummy Hoy who actually embraced it and insisted on being listed and referred to as Dummy.
 

Muse

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
416
Reaction score
164
This question popped up for me today while I was browsing the forums so I thought I'd ask for some insight... When or how did the words 'deafie' and 'hearie' pop up? Are these more recent slang from within say, the past ten years, or have they been around for a long time?

Also, I've been called a 'hearie' and it's definitely been wielded as an insult, but I've also seen other members use it just in casual conversation that was clearly not meant to be offensive. I've even seen at least one thread where a Deaf member was protesting the use of 'deafie' as something that grated on their nerves (part of the reason I'm thinking it's more of a modern slang). Why the disparity?

I take them as homonyms.

Deafie, as a derogatory term, is a different word from deafie, as a fraternal term. They just have the same spelling.

It's the same with hearie as a derogatory term versus hearie as an affectionate term, versus hearie as a term to describe a member of a group of people.

This is a great question. Thank you for making me think. :)
 

Muse

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
416
Reaction score
164
They were awfully ahead of their time. "Dummy" was the word thrown around to describe deaf.

Like Dummy Hoy who actually embraced it and insisted on being listed and referred to as Dummy.

And that is a stark plummet from less than a hundred years earlier! At the famed Parisian Banquets of the Deaf world in the mid-1800s, you saw descriptions of pity like this:

" ....an 'incomplete'man according to these [Deaf] gentlemen, a 'wretch' deprived of the language of mimicry....having to resort to a pencil to converse with the evening's heroes. An expression of ineffable pity could be read on their faces at his approach."

- Hearing journalist describing a how Deaf people saw hearing people at the Parisian Banquets, 1849

(Despite this above quote, the relationship was not adversarial nor derogatory. My understanding is the author illustrated this as a juxtaposition to the perspective most hearing people had of Deaf people. In fact, Deaf people were often granted audience with hearing politicians, notable journalists, and people of gifted stature. The banquets were performed in sign language)

And the same group of people had such a profound sense of self worth that they would have not accepted being called Dummy, and instead produced fundamental tenets of Deafhood that proclaimed their value as human beings, including my favorite:

"Deaf communities possess the gift of languages so special that they can be used to say things which speech cannot."

- Tenet #1 of the Parisian Tenets of Deafhood
 
Last edited:

Bottesini

Old Deaf Ranter
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2008
Messages
43,648
Reaction score
504
And that is a stark plummet from less than a hundred years earlier! At the famed Parisian Banquets of the Deaf world in the mid-1800s, you saw descriptions of hearing people like this:



And the same group of people had such a profound sense of self worth that they would have not accepted being called Dummy, and instead produced fundamental tenets of Deafhood, including:
Do you understand you are talking before and after Milan?
 

LadyZephyr

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
40
Reaction score
10
ASL Deaf used to have a popular name for OraLDeaf, "spitters".

All this hullabaloo over hearing outrage over "Hearie", actually makes me chuckle.

In the old days much less was made of hearing people, nor their feelings really considered.

It's the new world of technology that has allowed all the present day interaction.

Honestly, the first time somebody used the term I was too ignorant of the culture to understand that I was being insulted. Also, when you say 'Milan' are you talking about the 1880 conference? (I just Googled it)
 

Bottesini

Old Deaf Ranter
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2008
Messages
43,648
Reaction score
504
Honestly, the first time somebody used the term I was too ignorant of the culture to understand that I was being insulted. Also, when you say 'Milan' are you talking about the 1880 conference? (I just Googled it)
Yes
 

Muse

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
416
Reaction score
164
Honestly, the first time somebody used the term I was too ignorant of the culture to understand that I was being insulted. Also, when you say 'Milan' are you talking about the 1880 conference? (I just Googled it)

Yes. Milan was a major turning point in Deaf history. The period from 1880-1970 is regarded by some as our Dark Ages, and we still experience the effects of that period today.

It was when Deaf education shifted to an oral-only (and I emphasize the only part) approach. Deaf people are not aversive to the idea of learning how to speak as much as they are to the idea of losing access to sign. Plenty of Deaf people do both. It is the systematic removal and marginalization of sign that really screwed things up. Even Alexander Graham Bell himself admitted it:

“I admit the ease with which a deaf child acquires sign language and its perfect adaptability for the purpose of admitting his mind”

- Alexander Graham Bell, 1884

Propser Meniere's quote below highlighted the attitude with which the Milan people viewed the autonomy of Deaf people:

“The deaf believe that they are our equals in all respects. We should be generous and not destroy that illusion. But whatever they believe, deafness is an infirmity and we should repair it whether the person who has it is disturbed by it or not.”

- Propser Meniere, 1855

The damage from switching to the oral-only approach is particularly evident by the commentary of one oralist educator:

"It has always seemed to me that there is something terribly wrong with Oralism when it cannot turn out deaf graduates who appreciate the value of the methods by which they were instructed… I thought… how thrilling it would be to have a deaf man… stand up here and defend the Oral method orally… We do not see such a deaf man here… we have met together to talk about the education of the deaf, and the deaf themselves reject what we are having to say. There must be some very profound reason for this.”

- Tillinghast, 1909

As a result of Milan, the number of Deaf schools using the oral-only approach skyrocketed from almost nil to 80% in 40 years. The results were devastating. The number of Deaf school administrators, the number of Deaf people in high-level occupations, the number of Deaf people with education, and the number of Deaf people with any kind of language all plummeted.

There is clear historical evidence that as implementation of Milan progressed, expectations for test scores were progressively lowered to match the declining performance of Deaf students.

I see the effects every day when I interact with the older generations of our community. It's in their mindset and it is incredibly telling.
 
Last edited:

LadyZephyr

Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2016
Messages
40
Reaction score
10
I had to cringe a little reading that Tillinghast quote... "There must be some very profound reason for this." (ya think?!)

So if the natural progression of society is to stop seeing everybody as cookie-cutters of some non-existent "perfect", how long do you think it will take for Deaf culture to rebound from Milan? Or is there not really a way to know for sure?
 

Muse

Active Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2015
Messages
416
Reaction score
164
I had to cringe a little reading that Tillinghast quote... "There must be some very profound reason for this." (ya think?!)

So if the natural progression of society is to stop seeing everybody as cookie-cutters of some non-existent "perfect", how long do you think it will take for Deaf culture to rebound from Milan? Or is there not really a way to know for sure?

Lol, that :)

I honestly don't know. The dynamics behind what happened are still persistent, they've just taken on a different set of narratives. I wish I had a better answer! I do know that the number of Deaf people with PhDs in the US has taken off since and continues to grow. The youngest generations also have more confidence than the older ones (my unscientific opinion), so there is a trend at least :)

Totally curious, what got you into the Deaf world?
 

whatdidyousay!

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
29,363
Reaction score
804
Honestly, the first time somebody used the term I was too ignorant of the culture to understand that I was being insulted. Also, when you say 'Milan' are you talking about the 1880 conference? (I just Googled it)
I was only 8 yo when I was called deafie and knew I was being insulted by my 2 sisters and ex brother and my mom had no idea it was an insult . She most likely thought it was 'cute' ! UGH!
 

Rio

Brady lady
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Messages
17,098
Reaction score
1,145
I was only 8 yo when I was called deafie and knew I was being insulted by my 2 sisters and ex brother and my mom had no idea it was an insult . She most likely thought it was 'cute' ! UGH!


I don't think it's an insult. Looks more like an endearment unless I am wrong. Deafie/ hearie doesn't look offensive to me. Kinda cute .
 

whatdidyousay!

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
29,363
Reaction score
804
I don't think it's an insult. Looks more like an endearment unless I am wrong. Deafie/ hearie doesn't look offensive to me. Kinda cute .
Believe me this wasn't an endearment coming from my 2 sisters in ex brother . Insults were flying around all the time , dad called me every name in the book so
my 2 sister and ex brother called me deafie b/c they weren't allowed to us 4 letters words.
 

Rio

Brady lady
Premium Member
Joined
Mar 11, 2005
Messages
17,098
Reaction score
1,145
Believe me this wasn't an endearment coming from my 2 sisters in ex brother . Insults were flying around all the time , dad called me every name in the book so
my 2 sister and ex brother called me deafie b/c they weren't allowed to us 4 letters words.


Sounds like family issue going on. I am sorry for the bad childhood memories :(
 

whatdidyousay!

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 19, 2009
Messages
29,363
Reaction score
804
Sounds like family issue going on. I am sorry for the bad childhood memories :(

There no family issues going on now , we don't talk a lot now . Yeah I try to not think of my childhood memories but as I get older they seem to easier to remember .
 

Chase

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2007
Messages
2,424
Reaction score
88
It wasn't an insult with my sister's deaf and hearing friends when we were growing up. We all signed, and deafie and hearie were simple shortened designations like mom and pop, fifth grader or junior high guy, farm kid or city kid. Anything can also be taken as an insult by those determined to do so.
 
Top