[sw-l] mouthing in the EU

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Fri Feb 25 19:51:51 UTC 2005

It is my understanding that the primary difference in mouthing between
ASL and some European sign languages is that in most cases in the US,
the sign can be understood on its own separate from the mouthed spoken
language. Naturally, we do have our facial expressions which add
information, but I am focused on where the mouthing matches English
itself. Offhand, I can't think of an ASL sign that must have an English
mouthing to distinguish its meaning from the same exact sign but a
different English mouthing. Can any other ASL users on the list think
of an example?  I know some ASL users will mouth a specific English
word as they sign to indicate the English word they want to convey, but
the ASL concept is usually sufficient to understand the sentence
without the mouthing.

We do have facial movements (that are unrelated to English altogether)
that do accompany signs and alter the meaning (I think of them as
adverb movements), but I don't consider those to be in the same
category as mouthings.

In Hungary, I'm told by a friend, there are a number of signs that are
actually distinguished by the Hungarian mouthing that accompanies the
sign. So you can't really know what meaning is intended until you know
the Hungarian mouthing that accompanies it. That seems to be something
that is prevalent in European sign languages that I don't really notice
as much here in the US.

That is my understanding of the difference.  Am I misunderstanding
something?  I hope you Europeans can help me understand this better. I
find all these differences to be quite fascinating. It reminds me of my
college days where a speaker came who spoke in an African language and
my interpreter explained that they used popping sounds and clicking
sounds in this language and when they talked about a frog jumping in
the water, they would use a popping kind of sound in the word itself.
It was very fascinating. Every language has its own unique "twists" so
it is fun to learn how each language has developed.



On Feb 25, 2005, at 13:21, Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa wrote:

> Val,
>> Your work, in Europe is specific to your languages, which appear to
>> have some common characteristics, such as mouth movements while
>> signing, which is not as prevalent here among native ASL signers...at
>> least, not upon my observation...
> There are a large number of ASL users who do mouth a lot in the USA :)
> -
> just like there are a lot of mouthing people in the EU - I used to
> think
> Germany was full of people who literally mouth every word - but
> thankfully I
> have made a lot of mates there in Germany who don't mouth a lot - and
> then I
> used to think there's no one in France who mouth a lot until I met some
> deafies who tried to mouth French and sign in French to me at a party
> which
> freaked me out - u could see me whispering "NELLY! - INTERPRET FOR ME!"
> I call it "hurting one's jaws"...
> It depends on which school it is taught at, what group of friends etc
> - many
> of my deaf mates they could sign a lot better if they don't hang
> around with
> their deaf mates who mouth.
> And if you're referring to our unique mouthing (associated with our
> national
> sign langs), of course...all national sign languages have their own
> mouthings.
> I just told someone off for mouthing in English when he can do better
> in BSL
> mouthing.
> Mouthing in English is discouraged in Belfast & Derry yet it's
> encouraged in
> Dublin to some extent (!)
> Shane

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