[sw-l] Writing Mouth Movements in Different Cultures

Antony Daamen adaamen at OPTUSNET.COM.AU
Fri Jan 28 04:02:30 UTC 2005


Here in Australia, there are two main language modes, (including oral three)
 One is the "pure" Auslan the other is Signed English (SE)  

Sign English is one word = one sign regardless of the context.  So
Deafpeople sign the sign for "to plant" = verb also for (the) plant = noun
regardless if this plant is a factory or part of the flora !!  As you may
realise this is not very good for their comprehension of either English or
the world around Them!!  In this language mode mouthing the words are very
important.  sometimes they have one sign, that may have different shades of
meaning....  So when they read/sign some English part they often also
attempt to mouth the words to identify the diffference...  However, as their
English leaves (this is signed as leaves of a tree!) alot to be desired..
(signed as desire (want!!)), they often sign a word that is written
similarly, but have a different meaning: story (in a book), storey (levels
in a building) are both signed as story...  confusing for poor me, the
interpreter. Is she talking about three stories of Noah or the three storeys
of the ark?

Surrender has been signed as surround....  Poor interpreter!!

Ok Auslan is totally different.  the signing uses signing space to explain
the meaning of the word.  So it is very clear if it is story or storey!

In Auslan mouth movements are also being used... However they never mouth
the words!  Deaf don't know what words sound like or how to speak (talking
very very generally), so why mouth them?

However certain mouth movements are very important for the meaning of the

We have the "pah" mouth movement = is used for emphasis.  we have the 
accomplish' sign. but with the "pah" mouth movement it becomes more intense
like "at last! finished!!"

We have the "grimace" facial expression this is used for "very near"
We have the "mmmm" facial expression/ mouth movement for medium distance
we have the "far away look" (look in distance,. mouth slightly open) for
things very very far away...

we have the "question mark" facial expresion:
The Yes/no facial expression: Eye brow raized, head slighly tilted.   "Do
you want to marry me?"

We have the "wh" facial expression (why where etc): Eye brows lowered head
slighly down. "Why would I marry you?"
Interestingly "How are you?" (wh question) is with raised eyebrows because
the litteral translation of the sentence is "(Is your) health well?"  or
more colloqial (are you healthy?)......

We have more, but this gives you an idea.....

Now, to confuse matter even further, their are many people here that have
had a Sign Enlish schooling, but when they finsihed school and met other
Deaf, they learned Auslan.  these use a mixture.  these will voice the
language (often not very clear), while they are signing, they often use
something similar to Auslan grammar, the most natural to use, but sprinkle
SE signs (to, the, at,as .....) through the conversation...  Poor

The older generation uses mainly fingerspelling!!  They were taught the
Rochester method...  So they use 70-90% fingerspelling and sprinkle some
Auslan signs through this.  For example they might fingerspell plane, then
sign the sign for plane flying from whereever. They also tend to fingerspell
words in auslan grammar, and thus leave the to, and, at etc. out.... poor
These use very little facial expressions.......

In Europe -where the battle oral-Sign language has been the fierest and
-sadly- oral dominated the Deaf education for a long time... mouth movements
has become very important.. also things like a sign for Wienen being "to cry
 because it sound similar... How do Deafknow what something "sound like",
that is -for me- a clear sign of oppression of language.  The hearing
educators telling the Deaf what to singn.....

this is very sad and a loss of the richnessof the local Sign language...  

However, similar has happened here:   The sign for Sydney is the Harbour
Bridge....   In contrast the sign for Perth is the American (GRRRRR) letter

From memory Antwerp has Manneke Piss, so maybe the sign for Antwerp could
relate to this famous landmark (cheeky sorry!)

I hope this was enlightening....

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/sw-l/attachments/20050128/c34c08ae/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: IMSTP.gif
Type: image/gif
Size: 8841 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/sw-l/attachments/20050128/c34c08ae/attachment.gif>

More information about the Sw-l mailing list