mouthing words?

Antony & Terry Daamen atdaamen at MYOFFICE.NET.AU
Tue Jun 18 04:59:14 UTC 2002


Hi Stephan and others of this list,

I would like to make a little comment about 'mouthing' of words.  In Auslan
is very little mouthing of words However, there are many facial expressions
that add the right meaning to the word. For instance the 'wh' questions
(who, what when etc) have a frown, but a yes/no questions have a raised eye
brow facial expression, also emotions like annoyed, angry very angry and
everything in between is showing in facial expressions and body language.
 In short everything that hearing people do with their voice (as in showing
emotions, humor, sarcasm etc) is shown in facial expressions.

My wife (totally Deaf) and others hate it if I would talk and sign at the
same time, as they cant see the signs and the lipreading at the same time.
So in this context Deafies like hearing people to mouth the words, so they
can understand the poor signing skills, i.e. they don't look at the signing
but try to understand by lipreading. Does that mean DGS is a very poor SL
so the Deaf need mouthing to understand? ;)

This does fit with the Deaf history in Germany where oralism has been very
strong (and still is apparently), so there is still the idea that
lipreading is important for understanding one another.  Very, very sad how
the hearing has destroyed such a rich wonderful language as Sign

(don't worry, Australia has not yet totally thrown away the shekels of Sign
English either.  In the major cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide) are
schools that teach the Deaf using Auslan Teachers or Auslan interpreters.
However, when you get out of these cities the kids are still being taught
by teachers or interpreters attempting to sign every word and mouth (voice)
them at the same time...)  But times are slowly a-changing...  Over the
last five years there has been quite some improvements in the general
knowledge of Deaf students and their English (reading/writing ) has also
improved.  What I mean is that the standard of say grade 5 Deaf children
today is better then Grade 5 five or six years ago when Sign English was

IN the 18th Century, the Deaf in France had their first Schools using their
own language, French Sign Language.  The Abbey (L'Epee) invented with the
help of a Deaf Frenchman a "Sign French". Not to use as a means of
educating the Deaf, but just to teach them French.  Other subjects,
Geography, Mathematics, etc. were done in French Sign Language.  Sadly the
German, Dutch, Spanish and English were still attempting to focus on speech
and teaching the Deaf through their ears.  I don't like many things of the
French (my Dutch heritage), but I praise them for their understanding that
the Deaf have their own language, culture etc and use this knowledge to
teach them.

I am currently reading a book: "when the mind hears" by Harlan Lane.  This
explains the history of the Deaf in detail and thus explains the French
connection with ASL.  Harlan Lane is American.  I have read more books of
him and others as part of my study in Auslan.

See Ya,

Antony & Terry Daamen

"And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more;
.........But the meek one themselves will possess the earth,
And they will find their exquisite delight in
the abundance of peace. - Isaiah 37:10,11

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-----Original Message-----
From:   Stefan Woehrmann2 [SMTP:stefanwoehrmann at HOTMAIL.COM]
Sent:   Tuesday, June 18, 2002 4:52 AM
Subject:        Re: Sophistication of Sign Languages?

 << File: artikulationsduo_wie_viele.gif >> Hello Susanne, Valerie (behind
the scenes), Ilka and friends...

Well looking at the different SW documents you will see that very often you
will find only a few facial expressions - especially for indicating
the "mouthing aspect" of the signing.

Sorry for misunderstanding - I agree -

"... each signed language has its own rich and unique vocabulary, grammar
and syntax...and no one signed language is richer or better than another.

On the other hand - if mouthing should be as important in other SL as it
seems to be in DGS - I am wondering why other SW documents do not show too
many of facial expressions regarding mouth-gestures ..

In Germany we need to write a lot of facial expressions if you really want
to succeed to translate/understand the written signs -- Most of us are not
in that situation that we offer SW documents to persons and ask them to
write the translation down. Only in these cases you would understand how
difficult it may become to find your way through a unknown SW document -

My students at school  9th grade have become very skilled to translate long
SW documents - but if I would not add the facial expressions for
mouthmovements it is almost impossible to pick the exact German word that
has been associated with the signing performance .

What I am interested in is to learn about the individual interpretations of
mouth - gestures . As you can see on my website  I
decided to define the meaning of facial expressions (mouthing) This can not
be generalised to other spoken languages - - so there are spelling problems
ahead that are waiting for our answers

My students love to lipread these kinds of animated gifs- see attached gif
"boy and girl articulating "wie viele "  = how many
These mouthing studies are very helpfull to support to learn lipreading
German words

All the best

Stefan ;-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Valerie Sutton" <Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 6:24 PM
Subject: Sophistication of Sign Languages?

> SignWriting List
> June 11, 2002
> Susanne from Germany wrote:
> >Secondly: from my informal observations I would not think that ASL is
> >more sophisticated or elaborate than other sign languages, at least
> >not it the mentioned respect. My observation is that, in cases where
> >there could be confusion of the kind that is disambiguated in DGS
> >mostly through mouthing, ASL makes much more use of fingerspelling
> >and/or initialized signs. This, just like mouthing in DGS, gives the
> >context as to what "word" is referred to.
> Hello Susanne, Stefan, Tini and everyone -
> How interesting, and yes, Susanne, I agree with everything you said
> I do not believe that ASL is a more sophisticated language. Judging
> from what I have seen of different signed languages around the world
> on videotape and in person, each signed language has its own rich and
> unique vocabulary, grammar and syntax...and no one signed language is
> richer or better than another.
> And you are right, Susanne, about the American tendancy to
> fingerspell every new technological term that exists - The American
> Deaf use fingerspelling as a way to introduce new vocabulary into
> their language. In time, if people have to fingerspell the sign a
> lot, they slowly develop a sign for that term. Or, the fingerspelling
> is shortened and becomes a sign in its own right. That is connected
> with our American culture, but it does not mean it would necessarily
> be good or natural for other signed languages around the world...
> This is what I think...In time the world will become more and more
> global. As we become one big world community, we all will change for
> the better. More and more cultures will be understood, and who knows?
> We might even have a global currency...I hope so! (I think it should
> be called the "globe"...How many globes does it cost? )....;-)))
> This SignWriting List is an example of how cultures are coming
> together through global communication. And as globalization evolves,
> I believe SignWriting will play an important role. No one Sign
> Language should dominate. Instead, different signed languages should
> be written, respected and preserved, on an equal basis. Don't you
> think?...
> --
> Val ;-)
> Valerie Sutton
> Sutton at
> SignWritingSite
> Read & Write Sign Languages
> SignBankSite
> Sign Language Dictionaries
> DanceWritingSite
> Read & Write Dance
> MovementWritingSite
> Read & Write Movement & Gesture
> Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
> Center For Sutton Movement Writing
> an educational nonprofit organization
> Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
> tel: 858-456-0098....fax: 858-456-0020

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