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Laurent Trips on China

This is getting fun again. Now here is an interesting story that was noted during the 3rd Annual Convention for Deaf-Mutes.

See the link for the citation and original document. Proceedings of the Third Convention of the New England Gallaudet Association of Deaf-Mutes (

The story we like about Laurent quest for knowledge and his willingness to experiment. Tells us something about his mind: That in "the summer of 1818, a young Chinese man passed through Hartford, Conn. He was so ignorant of the English language that he could not express in it his most common wants. The Principal of the Asylum invited the stranger to spend an evening within its walls, and introduced him to Mr. Clerc, an assistant teacher in the Asylum. The object of this introduction was to ascertain to what extent Mr. Clerc, who was entirely ignorant of the Chinese language, could conduct an intelligible conversation with the foreigner by signs and gestures merely. The result of the experiment surprised all who were present. Mr. Clerc learned from the Chinaman many interesting facts respecting the place of his nativity, his parents and their family, his former pursuits in his own country, his residence in the United

States, and his notions concerning God and a future state. By the aid of appropriate signs, also, Mr. Clerc ascertained the meaning of about twenty Chinese words. When the conversation began, the stranger appeared to be bewildered with amazement at the novel kind of language that was addressed to him ; soon, however, he became deeply interested in the very expressive and significant manner which Mr. Clerc used to make himself understood; and, before one hour had expired, a very quick and lively interchange of thought took place between those two, so lately entire strangers to each other. The Chinese himself began to catch the spirit of his new deaf and dumb acquaintance, and to employ the language of the countenance and gestures with considerable effect to make himself understood."

-Laurent Clerc Holt-

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