[sw-l] mouthing in the EU

Sandy Fleming sandy at SCOTSTEXT.ORG
Sun Feb 27 08:15:00 UTC 2005

Hi Stuart,

> 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
> heard.

I appreciate that you're only reporting, but it's just that, like I said,
there's not really much in the way of firm conclusions that can be drawn
from the way people normally describe this sort of thing.

You can see it again, above, because they say "they must also learn the
spoken Hungarian". This is hard to believe! Surely they only need to know,
at the very most, the Hungarian-derived lip patterns that go with some
signs, and these lip patterns will often be simplified? Saying they also
have to learn spoken Hungarian implies they have to use Hungarian grammar
and everything, which I'm sure isn't true unless the signers they've met are
pretty much using signed Hungarian rather than Hungarian Sign Language.

On top of this there seems to me to be a wide range of phenomena involved
here, and any one person might only be observing and reporting on part of
this range. In our local Deaf Clubs there are full BSLers who constantly use
native lip patterns so that there's little opportunity for Emglish lip
patterns to creep in, while others seem to use continual English but at the
detriment of their BSL. Many signers will adjust for those whose sign
language is poor by mouthing more of the oral language.

So I'm wary of drawing any conclusions for casual reporting of this sort of


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