[sw-l] non-deaf people and mouthing

Adam Frost icemandeaf at YAHOO.COM
Fri Feb 25 21:35:28 UTC 2005

Hi all,

This whole discussion about Deaf mouthing in their native language is quite interesting. I only knew a little about it in other countries. In the US, however, Val is correct. You aren't considered a good ASL signer if you mouth English words. This is because ASL has a completely different syntax then English, and ASL has it's own mouthing. CHA, PAH, PING, TH, MMM, a "tongue wag", and a "lip lap" to name a few. Each have their own meaning that improve the quality of the sentence. It takes people years to realize the difference between ASL mouthing and English mouthing. The reason is that Deaf Americans hated oralism from the beginning. I have videos of Deaf signers over a hundred years ago, and they never moved their mouth because it was not culturally accepted to be "oral." Just a quick spill that I needed to say before I have to go to a meeting. If needed I will talk more about this. ;-) (Sometimes it helps to have a Deaf native signers point of view.)


Shane Gilchrist � hEorpa <shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at francismaginn.org> wrote:

We have a lot of non-deaf people who can sign fluently - as some deafies ll
say "oh they sign like a deaf person!" which is a bit unfair as there are a
lot of deaf people who mouth almost every word in English.

My non-deaf mother mouth quite well in NISL whereas Dad mouth in English
(which is confusing) - but its cos Mam had Agnes Carberry, a very good NISL
teacher as her teacher AND her good mate.

I believe non-deaf signers CAN mouth in ASL/NISL/BSL/VGT/DGS/PJM as good if
not better as deaf fluent signers :-)


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu [mailto:owner-sw-
> l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu] On Behalf Of Valerie Sutton
> Sent: 25 February 2005 20:34
> To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] mouthing in the EU
> SignWriting List
> February 25, 2005
> I just looked at our second video in the Deaf Perspectives on
> SignWriting video series...and Butch Zein, from a Deaf family of
> 5-generations Deaf, and Kevin Clark, three generations Deaf
> family...they both did not mouth as much as I did, when I signed on the
> video! Shame on me! Obviously I am a non-Deaf person...but the born
> Deaf native signers were using mouth movements related to ASL, but not
> to English mouthing...I wonder what native signers do in Europe, when
> no hearing (non-deaf) people are in the room, and they are signing to
> each other?...do they mouth spoken language?...Val ;-)
> ----------------------
> On Feb 25, 2005, at 12:21 PM, Valerie Sutton wrote:
> > SignWriting List
> > February 25, 2005
> >
> > On Feb 25, 2005, at 11:51 AM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> >> 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.
> >
> > Stuart, Shane, Stefan and Everyone -
> > I believe, Stuart, that you are correct that there is a difference.
> > Let me tell you why...
> >
> > Instinctively, as a non-Deaf person (smile....Shane likes the term
> > non-Deaf rather than hearing person)....I know, that if a Deaf ASL
> > signers starts mouthing English words while communicating with me,
> > that they feel, that because I am hearing, I need that or I will not
> > understand them...But as a person who wants to learn ASL, I will ask
> > them to turn off any voice, and please don't mouth English to me,
> > because I want to learn ASL, and they immediately say...wow! so great
> > to know a person who wants to learn ASL, and then they turn off the
> > mouthing of English words, and I can understand their ASL much better
> > then...the mouthing confuses me because ASL is not English...that I
> > think is proof that ASL does not have to have mouthing English words
> > to exist...The facial expressions in ASL are important to the grammar,
> > but they are not mouthing of a spoken language...
> >
> > Val ;-)
> >
> >

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