The Life and Death of Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language

From its founding in 1640 through the end of the 1800s, people who were born in Chilmark, a small town on the western end of Martha’s Vineyard, also tended to die in Chilmark.

Two of those people were the children of Jonathan Lambert, a man who had come to Chilmark from Kent, England, in the late 1600s. According to island records, Lambert was deaf; his children, born after his arrival, were the first congenitally deaf residents of Martha’s Vineyard. They were also the beginning of a language and deaf culture unique to the island—one that used to thrive, but is now extinct.

Read more: The Atlantic

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