Wednesday, March 07, 2007

ILfDT: Martha's Vineyard Sign Language

I Live for Dead Tongues: Martha's Vineyard Sign Language
A number of families from a puritan community in the Kentish Weald emigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony area of the United States in the early 17th century, many of their descendents later settling on Martha's Vineyard. The first deaf person known to have settled there was a carpenter and farmer Jonathan Lambert, who moved there with his hearing wife in 1694. By 1710, the migration had virtually ceased, and the endogamous community that was created contained a high incidence of hereditary deafness that would persist for over 200 years.
Language family: developed from Old Kent Sign Language, influenced by French Sign Language
Where it was spoken: Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts

When did it die: with the death of Katie West (1952)
What did it in: "As the 20th century came to a turn, the previously isolated community of fishers and farmers began to see the influx of tourists that would become a mainstay in the island economy. The jobs in tourism were not as deaf-friendly as fishing and farming had been. Further, as intermarriage and further migration further joined the people of Martha's Vineyard to the mainland, the island community more and more resembled the wider community there."

Living linguistic relatives: "Martha's Vineyard Sign Language is...notable for the role it played in the development of American Sign Language."

Labels: , , , , ,

:: posted by David, 8:01 AM


Add a comment