facial expressions

Sandy Fleming sandy at SCOTSTEXT.ORG
Sun Jul 9 07:20:05 UTC 2006

Hi All!!

Here in the south of England the "oral" English features of BSL go on a 
spectrum amongst different signers. Some apply English "keywords" to 
every single sign, some only keyword a selection of signs, some keyword 
only those signs which they feel they can make more specific by 
keywording, some keyword only fingerspelling, and some use no English at 

This seems to me to depend strongly on the sort of education a person 
got, and education for the Deaf in England being a rather confused 
affair, all sorts of signing styles can be seen.

On the whole, strong keywording isn't much liked, even amongst people 
who habitually use it. It slows the signing, interferes with native BSL 
mouth patterns and even mood indicators, discourages the use of visual 
aspects of the language, and places higher demands on the listeners' 
concentration. People with Usher's can have a very hard time of it.

As one of the many learners who are practising to eradicate English lip 
patterns from their own BSL, I certainly wouldn't introduce it into my 


Ingvild Roald wrote:

> Well, as one of the northern Europeans,
> and one transcribing from natie signers' videos, I must say that at 
> least in  Norway, there are two types of neccessay information give by 
> the face:
> 1:there are the 'non-manuals', the special facial expressions 
> belonging to Norwegian SL itself, and
> 2: there are the mouthing movement stemming from borrowing from 
> Norwegian spoken language. Norwegian signers tend to focus on the 
> mouth, with the hands and the eybrows etc etc being in more of a 
> side-view.
> In addition to these two main informations given by the face, there is 
> also, as Val said, information about the mood, so, yes, the face is 
> very important.
> Ingvild

More information about the Sw-l mailing list