Don’t know who Jean-Ferdinand Berthier is???
– well ya should cuz he is grand. Happy Birthday Ferdinand Berthier. We are so glad you were born. (September 28, 1803 – July 12, 1886).
Berthier was born 210 years ago and was educated at the Royal Institution for the Deaf, Paris School under Massieu and Clerc. He later became a teacher there. Activist, statesman, originator of the concept of a global Deaf-mute Nation and the Deaf-Mute Banquets (with Forestier and Lenoir), he died just a few years after the dreaded ICED Milan 1880 congress but had already began to see Oralism take root in France, largely via Desire Ordinaire, a doctor who directed the Paris school in the late 1800s – forbidding LSF and demoting Deaf teachers.
See Guillaume Chastel (French Deafman, who is an ASL professor at U of R) explain Berthier’s three names and his contributions to our Deaf-World. (English summary is below)
Video is from the Who’s Who French section in the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood DVD set
English text from ASL video by Dr. Karen Christie:
Ferdinand Berthier is known by three name signs. P-on-side-chest was one name sign which symbolizes the fact that he was awarded the Legion of Honor because of his activism challenging the government on behalf of Deaf citizens. The second name sign is 5-palm-down-circles-top-of-fist-of-non-domiant-hand which indicates that Berthier was bald. The third name sign used for Berthier is flat-O-circles-near-ear (added: for beret/hat). Berthier was a student at the Paris Deaf School under Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu (name sign: put-watch-in-vest-pocket). Berthier was a teacher and writer. His books were biographies honoring important educators of the time such as Abbé de’l’Épée (name sign: clerical-collar+SWORD) , Abbé Sicard (name sign: S-fist-shakes) and Bebián. Berthier was a strong activist for Deaf people’s linguistic rights and rights as equal citizens. Along with two other Deaf Frenchmen, Berthier founded the French Deaf-Mute Banquets in Paris and also an International Deaf organization to address global Deaf rights. (Drawing of Berthier)
Adrean Clark’s art and info on Ferdinand Berthier
“We do not speak, it is true, but think
We can express ourselves just as well with eyes, and hands, and smiles and lips.
Our most attractive discourse is found on the tips our fingers
And our language, rich in secret beauty
That you, poor speaking people, will never understand.”
(excerpt of poem translated from French to English by Mike Gulliver)
“We have been rejected from the banquets of hearing-speaking people. They have
wanted to suppress the language of deaf mutes…And yet deaf mutes have said to their speaking brothers: ‘come among us: join us in our work and in our play: learn our language as we learn yours”… (Ferdinand Berthier)
Dr. Paddy Ladd discusses Berthier’s activism in-depth in his book Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood. Here is one excerpt
Deepest gratitude to all the De’VIA artists for allowing us to reproduce their works here.
Thank you Paddy for introducing me to Berthier way back when you came to NTID and my brain was just a wee pea thingy re: Deafhood, our heritage and our collective consciousness. I’m indebted to you brother. And KC for all u find & share.
We have shoulders to stand on folks – we just need to find them and … STAND.
And again, overjoyed you were born Jean-Ferdinand. thank you for all you did and continue to do from afar. We are resurrecting your Deaf-mute banquets as we inch towards your notion of a true Deaf-mute nation.
NOTE: the term mute was widely accepted by Deaf people (many who could and would still speak when amongst non-signers. It was AG Bell who stigmatized the term “mute”)