Writing mouthing of words with SSW

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Feb 23 23:29:39 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
February 23, 2006

Erika at the University of Michigan wrote:
> Hi - In the video I'm transcribing of Nepali Sign Language, words  
> are occasionally mouthed along with the signs. I see that there are  
> a variety of mouthshapes available in the Sign Text Editor - do I  
> choose the mouth shape that most closely approximates the shape the  
> signer's mouth takes as they mouth the word? Or is there a symbol  
> to indicate more generally that the sign is accompanied by a  
> mouthed word?
> Thanks! Erika


Cherie at the Georgia School for the Deaf wrote:
> I asked something about this earlier, and missed the answer...   
> Sometimes the mouth is actually -moving- as part of the sign...   
> like a jaw drop, or mouthing something that looks like POW, or VA  
> or CHIVA...  how are these motions shown?

Hello Erika, Cherie, Stefan and everyone who writes mouth movements -  
ha! ;-))

Which is ALL of us sooner or later - ha!

There has been extensive work on writing mouth movements in different  
signed languages in SignWriting, from several perspectives, so to  
answer your question could take many messages, or if you have a  
specific mouth movement you want to write, we can discuss that too...

But right now, the answer is YES...we write the way the mouth looks  
and feels, as much as is possible, when mouthing is important for the  
understanding of a sign...

This means that some people write a lot of mouth movements and others  
do not, depending on how important they feel it is...

The best known work on writing mouth movements is Stefan Woehrmann's  
work on writing the mouth movements of German speech and German Sign  
Language. When writing the movements of German speech, Stefan has had  
great success with teaching Deaf children to mouth words very well,  
to the point that reading the written mouth movements has actually  
helped some Deaf children learn to speak German better... Stefan  
calls this Mundbildschrift, which in English means mouth-picture- 
writing...but they are SignWriting symbols applied to German speech  
in a systematic way that Stefan developed...it is quite successful  
and there are now some people adapting Mundbildschrift to write the  
speech movements of other spoken languages too...

And then there is the other world of naturally-evolved signed  
languages, and the mouth movements necessary for grammar of signed  
languages, and those mouth-movements are also written quite a  
lot...Yes, we write Pah and those other common mouth movements from  
ASL or other signed languages.

So first, here is a picture of Stefan writing Mundbildschrift on the  
blackboard in his classroom, and if you click on this link below, you  
can see the symbols in a PDF document...do not worry...you do not  
have to know German to see the symbols in the back of this  
document...just flip a few pages to see them...without any German... 
(I will continue next message, in about two hours)...smile...

I hope others will answer about writing mouth movements too!!


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