[sw-l] mouthing in the EU

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri Feb 25 20:10:46 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
February 25, 2005

On Feb 25, 2005, at 11:21 AM, Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa wrote:
> 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.

Hello Everyone, and Shane!
Great to hear from you about mouthings, Shane, and of course you are
right that every country is a big place with many schools and many Deaf
people and everyone comes from different backgrounds. If a person has
been orally trained, or perhaps even in the Total Communication system,
then mouthing is different than among those native signers born into
deaf families that go back 5 generations-Deaf...And I am aware of
that...Here in th US, when I was blessed with a staff of 10 Deaf
people...all were native signers or young children when they started
signing, and all had been raised in residential schools for the Deaf
where ASL was the languages in the dorms...and I assure you...those ten
Deaf staff members did not mouth every word, as if they were speaking
with a non-deaf person...of course their language changed when I came
into the room...and I accepted that and we all learned together that
Deaf people, in a working environment with non-deaf people, tend to
mouth more for the non-deaf person in the room, but among themselves
they turn that off...and we know that because we all willingly did
videos of this fact and they all agreed it was true that they changed
their language for all non-deaf people except those who were native
signers themselves...This wonderful group of native signers was called
the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting (the DAC) and all in all, we
had around 25 native signers, or pre-lingual signers in the DAC over a
period of 15 years...including some well known Deaf members of the
National Theater of the Deaf...Many of our DAC members also worked in
the research lab under Dr. Ursula Bellugi at Salk Institute here in San
Diego (La Jolla) and they would come to my home after work every
Wednesday night and work on SignWriting...Years later, in 1998, Darline
Clark Gunsuals did a video of four children's stories signed in ASL for
ASL Deaf kids, and although there are the natural mouth movements of
ASL storytelling on that video, Darline did not mouth every word as if
she were speaking...So my experience has not been with mouthing English
words...I would ask Deaf people to turn off their voice and try be as
ASL with me as much as possible...and usually meant that mouthing words
was turned off...

One exception to this however, is one of our DAC members...Lucinda
O'Grady Batch...mouthed a lot when she did a teaching video for us
called Lessons in SignWriting Video Series...I asked her about that and
she felt it was important for hearing audiences...the other Deaf person
on the same video series, Kevin Clark, did not mouth much at all...so
you can see the variation on the video...

I have a question about how one enters the facial expressions and
mouthings in dictionary entries....Let us take your sign for Birthday,
Shane, which you entered beautifully into your SignPuddle for Northern
Ireland..You did not place any mouth movements in the SignWriting of
that entry...Do you think every entry should have the mouth movements
placed above?

Stefan has a lot of mouth movements in his SignPuddle, but other
countries have not chosen to place so many mouth movements in
dictionary entries...

Here in the US, our DAC Deaf staff members had told me years ago not to
put facial expressions in dictionary entries if it is possible that the
facial expression could change using that sign, depending on the
sentence grammar structure...and so we tend not to place facial
expressions on all signs, but only some, in our ASL dictionary...but we
do have LOTS of facial expressions when writing ASL sentences in
SignWriting...lots and lots...so dictionary entries and sentences are
two different things, I believe...what do you think?...

Val ;-)

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