AW: [sw-l] non-deaf people and mouthing

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE
Sun Feb 27 12:06:09 UTC 2005

Hello Valerie and Everyone, 

this morning I happened to see a report of the German broadcast about Deaf
culture, SL - issues ."Sehen statt Hören" .. (You may compare it to "See -
Hear ") about the DEAF Olympics in Australia 

In the end there was a short videoclip showing some different signers from
Taiwan in action. "Welcome to Taipeh" in Taiwan - where the next DEAF
Olympics will be.

Guess what (smile) - some performed just with a smiling face, some did lip
movements just for "Taipeh" and others showed a lot of mouthing like -
"Welcome to Taipeh" 

See attached .png  "Welcome to Taipeh" 

Once again - I really would prefer not to discuss SL - issues but rather the
fact that thanks to SW we can record any SL performance in a marvellous
exact way. Part of this documentation can be to write the mouthing or mouth
gestures just the way we can identify them on video -- 
Well - if you are familiar with the SL you are trying to transcribe you will
be able to write these lipmovements much better if they are a part of the
spoken language in that area! 

There cannot be anything wrong with that! If anybody feels unhappy with the
mouthing within a SL- performance that is quite a different matter - but
definitely not a question of SignWriting. 

I do not have any trouble if somebody prefers a SL-performance without any
mouthing! But if it comes down to record a given performance it would be
helpful to accept whatever is peformed ... what do you think? 

Stefan ;-) 

PS Hi Val - do you understand my Mundbilder for welcome -without air (smile)

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] Im Auftrag von Sandy Fleming
Gesendet: Sonntag, 27. Februar 2005 09:55
An: sw-l at
Betreff: RE: [sw-l] non-deaf people and mouthing

Hi Val!

> Meanwhile, Stuart and I are wondering if it is different in Europe?
> When two fluent signing Deaf people in BSL sign to each other, without
> any non-deaf people in the they mouth every single word in
> English while they are signing in BSL grammar? Have you ever videotaped
> the differences when a non-deaf person suddenly enters the room? How do
> the native Deaf signers change their language to accomodate the
> non-deaf person?

We have signers who are "accommodating" in this way. I had a discussion with
one such Deaf person recently, who said that he tries to use more lip
patterns with people whose sign language is poor. He also said that this
becomes a bad habit and he can't stop himself from using English lip
patterns with signers who only use native BSL lip patterns!

These full BSL signers use very few English lip patterns - their mouths are
continually busy with BSL lip pattens indicating intensity, continuity,
rejection, denial, shock, laughter &c as well as those "poo", "vee" "thoo"
&c patterns of BSL. These signers are often able to change enough to
accommodate less competent signers, but sometimes theere are real
communication difficulties.

It seems acceptable for someone who has enough proficiency in both languages
to intervene to sort out the problems. Sometimes you see someone acting as
"interpreter" between less proficient signers and less proficient
English-speakers. I sometimes find myself being "interpreted" for with a
full-BSLer but now that I'm doing Level 3 BSL that situation is rapidly

Sometimes there's a complete communication breakdown that lip-patterns and
even fingerspelling don't resolve. I've noticed that even some quite
advanced learners can be stumped by simple phrases like "birthday cake",
which in BSL is "blow-out-candle cake". You can't mouth English while
blowing out a candle! I had to intervene recently when watching a BSL user
trying over and over again to communicate "Valentine's Day" to a Level 2-er.
In BSL this is "Heart Day" and I suppose no amount of English lip patterns
will help you if you don't know the correct BSL idiom.

Incidentally, while I had it easy in Level 1 & 2, in my Level 3 class
English is not tolerated! Since BSL does everything in a different order or
with inflections, it becomes impossible to even think in English and I begin
to understand these native speakers much better. "Tommorrow shop go. Rain
car." &c...!


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