[sw-l] mouthing in the EU

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Sun Feb 27 04:34:35 UTC 2005

Well, it is my understanding that the actual sign is the same but the
Hungarian word mouthing distinguishes the actual meaning of the sign. A
Deaf American couple I know who live and work in Hungary explained it
to me. They said it made it much harder for them to learn Hungarian
Sign Language because they must also learn the spoken Hungarian in
these cases to be able to distinguish the meanings of the signs. Now, I
don't know if that is similar or different to the way mouthing is used
in other European Sign Languages. I can only comment on what I have



On Feb 26, 2005, at 2:32, Sandy Fleming wrote:

> Stuart wrote:
>> 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
> When people put forward this "signs are distinguished by mouthing the
> oral
> language words" argument they miss some crucial points.
> Firstly, it's not the _signs_ that are distinguished, it's the
> _meanings_
> that are distinguished.
> Secondly, these meanings are distinguished in the oral language, but
> this
> doesn't mean to say they have to have words - or signs -
> distinguishing them
> in the other languages. It's like the French cousin/cousine in
> English, or
> even many words in my Scots dialect, such as *"gar" and "mak" which
> are both
> "make" in English, or *"stour" and "dist" which are both just "dust" in
> English. I don't feel a need to fingerspell "stour" while saying
> "dust" in
> English just because I grew up speaking Scots dialect!
> So the whole statement about Hungarian vs Hungarian Sign Language is
> meaningless unless more carefully phrased. Even then, I would take it
> with a
> pinch of salt unless it was backed up with numerous examples of things
> which
> _couldn't_ be said in the sign language without "help" from the oral
> language. In fact, this can't really happen because when there isn't a
> word
> for something in a language there's either always a phrase that's used
> instead, or clarification is done in some other way. For example, not
> being
> able to distinguish between cousin/cousine in English doesn't mean
> that you
> can't easily make the other person understand the gender of the cousin
> you're talking about!
> It works both ways. In BSL we only have one sign for husband/wife, but
> that's OK. In English we don't have a word that means  "could you two
> shift
> over?", but we don't resort to BSL to express this!
> *"gar" means "to cause to"'
> *"stour" is "dust in motion".
> Sandy

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