AW: [sw-l] facial expressions - Mundbilder

Sandy Fleming sandy at SCOTSTEXT.ORG
Sun Jul 9 10:47:49 UTC 2006

Hi Stefan!

Reading your email, I think our undertanding is pretty much the same.

I actually do use your Mundbilder in my own SignWriting, but not to 
express English, normally, rather it's useful for expressing BSL mouth 
patterns such as "pu", "thoo", "ffff" &c.

A few points in reply:

>Well - Sandy, that may be one of the many differences between the two of us
>- smile - I do not want to eradicate anything from SL - all I want is to
>write what I see! SignWriting is a special branch of Movement Writing which
>includes movement of the mouth, lips, tongue ... 
Yes but as I was saying, here in Britain at least, we have a wide choice 
from almost 100% English mouth patterns to almost none. When 
SignWriting, we have to make that choice just the same as when actually 
signing. Since eradicating mouth patterns is generally agreed to result 
in much better (more expressive) sign language, that's my choice.

>And I learned from many, many messages that there are SignLanguages in the
>world that do not include this voiceless articulation of words taken from
>the spoken language. And I have no problem with that - even from time to
>time signers from this background show up with "mouthing"-movements ... in
>special situations (e.g. if they sign the topic - or if they sign for video
>... ??? ) 
I can expand on this a bit, at least in a BSL context. A few months ago 
our BBC programme "See Hear" aired a history of BSL. It showed some old 
film of signers from the 1940's or 50's (judging by the clothes and 
things), and I was surprised at all the fingerspelling they used. Indeed 
the presenter remarked that it was very difficult to understand them 
although apart from the amount of fingerspelling it was more or less BSL 
as we know it.

They also showed how in those days when someone was at a Deaf CLub he'd 
sign in BSL but when he stood up to make an announcement to all, he'd 
fingerspell the whole announcement! Nowadays we have much less 
fignerspelling but still a modern analogy: when someone makes an 
announcement, they often switch to SSE with English lip patterns, then 
back to BSL when they're finished.

It all goes to show that English is somehow considered more formal than 
BSL, and BSLers will go more English when they feel they're in a formal 
situation. My hope is that one day SignWriting will make BSL seem just 
as formal, and there will be a lot less of this!

Sandy Fleming

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