University of Edinburgh

Improving BSL Skills Workshop - using non-manual features

Presented on 27 February 2002

Non-manual features in BSL

Non-manual features are used at different levels of BSL.

We need to know the form and function of the features, ie: what features are used and what they are used for.

Various, eg: 'sh' lip pattern; puffed cheeks; sucked-in cheecks, etc Inherent 'phonological' element of signs: as much a part of the sign as the handshape. Multi-channel signs, eg: 'existence' signs; 'bang one's head againsta a brick wall'; negative markers such as 'vee' and 'th'. Part of the lexical resources of BSL.
'th'; 'sh'; puffed cheeks, tongue protrusion, etc. Non-manual morphemes we can add to give information often given by adverbs (adverbials), adjectives and intensifiers in English. Expressing meanings such as 'unpleasantly', 'carelessly', 'with difficulty', etc. Part of the morphological resources of BSL.
Furrowed eyebrows; raised eyebrows 'wh' questions; yes/no questions Part of BSL syntax
Eyebrows raised, eyes wide open, head tilt Marking the topic in topic-comment utterances Part of BSL syntax
Body shift Used to indicate who is being referred to, eg: in reported dialogue (role shift) Park of discourse structure, ie: the level of language beyone the sentence. This tells us who is communicating.
Eye-gaze To indicate the referent - ie: object or person being referred to Park of BSL syntax

Support materials

Handout: Examples taken from Sign 9: Non-manual features I
(Sign: a series of VHS bideotapes on BSL from the Edinburgh Research Project)

Handout: Extract from The visual world of BSL, showing phonological elements in 'that's right'; 'oh my God', 'bang one's head against a brick wall', 'saunter', 'could have happened', 'because', 'be', 'there'

Handout: Extract from The visual world of BSL, showing non-manual morphemes 'th', 'sh', 'ee', 'puffed cheeks', 'open wide', 'drawn in lips', 'puckered nose', 'downward droop'