Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on by Nora Ellen Groce

By Nora Ellen Groce

From the 17th century to the early years of the 20th, the inhabitants of Martha's winery manifested a really excessive expense of profound hereditary deafness. In stark distinction to the event of such a lot deaf humans in our personal society, the Vineyarders who have been born deaf have been so completely built-in into the way of life of the neighborhood that they weren't seen--and didn't see themselves--as handicapped or as a bunch aside. Deaf humans have been integrated in all elements of existence, corresponding to city politics, jobs, church affairs, and social existence. How used to be this attainable?

On the winery, listening to and deaf islanders alike grew up talking signal language. This distinctive sociolinguistic model intended that the standard boundaries to communique among the listening to and the deaf, which so isolate many deaf buyers, didn't exist.

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Extra info for Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha's Vineyard

Sample text

Because of these marriage patterns, within three generations nearly every Island family whose ancestors were not from Kent was linked to a Kentish family by at least one marriage, and often a dozen or more. Some data can be winnowed from the distribution of Kentish surnames on the Island. In Tisbury half of the first generation born on the Island had one or both parents of Kentish origin; this figure rose to three-quarters by the second generation, as sons and daughters of the non-Kentish group chose Kentish marriage partners.

Street vendors hawked their wares, a merry-go-round was installed next to the ferry landing, and the boardwalk along the cliffs was always crowded. The settlement that sprang up around the camp meeting grounds was named Cottage City, and in 1888 it became a separate town. In 1909 the name was changed to Oak Bluffs. Today many people from off-Island come to the Vineyard for vacations, and many retire there to live year-round. Such people have bought and renovated many of the older houses and farms, giving much of the Island a prosperous facade, which hides the fact that the per capita income of native Vineyarders is among the very lowest in Massachusetts.

They may have known about the Island from the several members of Lothrop's original group who had already moved to Edgartown. Allen and Skiffe soon settled on their land, selling the remaining tracts to friends and neighbors from Cape Cod. Eleven settlers, with nine different surnames, came to Tisbury in the early 1670s; six of the families were originally from the Kentish Weald. 24 In the 1670s and 1680s people from the upper Cape Cod region, along with younger sons of families from both Edgartown and Tisbury, ventured into the Chilmark area (Banks 1966).

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