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I just read for the first time about Ottoman court deafs, or ”palace mutes” (dilsiz), who had apparently high status in the sultan's court and were so numerous that very likely they had a fully developed sign language in use.

academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/vie

I really need to learn more about this chapter in history!

To be sure, the article is not specific about if these dilsiz were actually deaf or not, it may as well refer to people who were vowed to be silent or who had their tongue cut off in order to work at the court. But I guess at least some of them must have been deaf.

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