A speaker of American Sign Language captured the essence of how Whorfianism unintentionally demeans minority languages, mocking outsider fans of Sign. In an interview, the signer feigned ‘a vapid, rapt look on his face. “Sign language is so beautiful,” he signs, in a gushing mockery of the attitude that exoticizes sign and correspondingly reduces deaf people to the status of pets, mascots. “It’s just so wonderful that deaf people can communicate!”’ Or, as I would have it, ‘It’s just so wonderful that people who aren’t like us can think and process reality as richly as we do!’
I think American Sign Language is beautiful. I don’t feel weird about saying so. It’s clear to me as well that Deaf people are people and can think and communicate. I’m glad they can do it in a manner I find transfixingly beautiful. Maybe they don’t care that I find it beautiful. Whatever. I’ve resisted the notion that there are spoken languages that sound lovelier than others. But I’ve come around. I’d rather listen to a Brazilian speaking legalese than a German uttering sweet nothings, a Francophone pontificating over poetry recited in Hebrew, as much as I don’t understand any of it. Once we come to meanings I’m sure my mind would change. Idiosyncratic ear (or eye) aside there is no language that can’t express beautiful thoughts. There is no language that limits the mind it inhabits, making categories of thoughts unthinkable. At least, not according to John McWhorter. I’m inclined to believe him.
source: Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the untold history of English by John McWhorter