Friday, 14 July 2017

Grammar Rules of Sign Language Have Nothing to Do with Hands

The issue is not the structure or grammar of sign, but the difficulties in translating it to the host country norm. 

Deaf people struggle then to gain the support to use it, and to follow the host country grammatical norms.  It is like discussing the nuances of Mandarin in Iceland.

Article: The grammar of sign language is incredibly complex. Here's how a signer's facial expressions, head movements, and even eye motions can impact the meaning of a phrase.

Sign language, the primary form of communication of the Deaf community, has been in use for hundreds of years. You’re probably most familiar with American Sign Language, but sign language is used all over the world and has nearly 150 variations. Sign language interpreters can be seen everywhere from classrooms to graduation ceremonies to major sporting events. Here are eight things you should never do or say to a deaf person.

When you think of sign language, you most likely imagine signers using their hands to form words and letters. However, hands are only one of the many different body language techniques that signers use to get their meaning across. In fact, much of the grammatical structure of sign language is not indicated by the signer’s hands. Here’s how an 11-year-old used sign language to save lives.

While the hands are responsible for forming the words themselves, markers called non-manual elements control much of the language’s grammatical structure. Non-manual elements (or markers) are body language techniques that don’t use the hands. These include head movements, body positioning, and facial expressions. Used together with the signs, these elements give sign language a nuanced and extremely complicated grammatical structure. Linguist Andrea Lackner from Alpen-Adria University in Austria performed a pair of studies that show just how important these non-manual elements are to sign language users.

For one study, the researchers played a video of someone using Austrian Sign Language, showing it to both sign language users and non-users. Then, they asked the participants to choose the moments in the video that they thought divided the phrases grammatically. The results were pretty stunning. The signers and non-signers mostly identified the same hand motions, such as pauses and repeated signs. However, far more signers than non-signers identified non-manual elements as crucial to the sentence’s grammatical meaning.

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