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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Dec 28, 2001  5:48 am
Subject:  Re: ZURICH: Facial Expressions

SignWriting List
December 27, 2001

ZURICH Project wrote:
>You are no doubt right - I am probably foreseeing problems where there
>may not be many. Part of the background for my comment was the fact
>that several of us here in Europe over the past couple of years have
>been paying alot of attention to 'mouthings' (word-like mouth movements)
>vs. mouth gestures (like ASL 'pah').

I am glad to know that facial expressions are getting some focus. I
know Stefan in Germany feels strongly about it and I am impressed
with his Mouth Writing....

And it is possible that writing children's stories will require
different facial expressions than writing literature for Deaf
adults....I feel we need to be flexible and try different ways of
approaching facial expressions - We may find some rich linguistic
research will result...

Let me share one story...Darline Clark Gunsauls, a native ASL signer
who is Deaf, used to work with me, back in 1996-1998. Darline started
writing children's stories in American Sign Language in SignWriting.
I noticed that Darline wrote a lot of smiling faces in the signs. I
asked her about that. Darline told me that she felt strongly that
"smiling" facial expressions are a part of telling a story to a Deaf
child...that we don't even realize that we use special facial
expressions when communicating with children, but we we
videotaped her face, and sure enough, Darline had a special kind of
smile on her face when she was telling a story in sign language to a
Deaf child...that same face would change if she told the same story
to a Deaf adult...

Now, linguistically, a lot of those smiles may not have had
importance...but emotionally, Deaf children like those smiles, and we
can write them in why not? So I placed a lot of
smiles in the SignWriting literature for children....

Our experience so far? VERY positive! The Deaf kids love the stories.
And the smiles are not hard to read...they are understood immediately
with no effort and they give a happy feeling to the reading
experience. Take the smiles away, and it is not as pleasant to
read...or at is my guess that is the case...

So if the mouthing of sounds are an integral part of Swiss-German
Sign Language, it may make the document easier to read, if the
SignWriting mirrors the reality...


Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton

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