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Original Paper

Editor's Choice - Free Access

The Phonetics of Head and Body Movement in the Realization of American Sign Language Signs

Tyrone M.E. · Mauk C.E.

Author affiliations

aHaskins Laboratories, Long Island University Brooklyn, New Haven, Conn., and bUniversity of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., USA

Corresponding Author

Martha E. Tyrone

Haskins Laboratories

300 George Street, Suite 900

New Haven, CT 06511 (USA)

E-Mail tyrone@haskins.yale.edu

Related Articles for ""

Phonetica 2016;73:120-140

Abstract

Background/Aims: Because the primary articulators for sign languages are the hands, sign phonology and phonetics have focused mainly on them and treated other articulators as passive targets. However, there is abundant research on the role of nonmanual articulators in sign language grammar and prosody. The current study examines how hand and head/body movements are coordinated to realize phonetic targets. Methods: Kinematic data were collected from 5 deaf American Sign Language (ASL) signers to allow the analysis of movements of the hands, head and body during signing. In particular, we examine how the chin, forehead and torso move during the production of ASL signs at those three phonological locations. Results: Our findings suggest that for signs with a lexical movement toward the head, the forehead and chin move to facilitate convergence with the hand. By comparison, the torso does not move to facilitate convergence with the hand for signs located at the torso. Conclusion: These results imply that the nonmanual articulators serve a phonetic as well as a grammatical or prosodic role in sign languages. Future models of sign phonetics and phonology should take into consideration the movements of the nonmanual articulators in the realization of signs.

© 2016 S. Karger AG, Basel



References

  1. Antzakas K, Woll B (2002): Head movements and negation in Greek Sign Language; in Wachsmuth I, Sowa T (eds): Gesture and Sign Language in Human-Computer Interaction. Berlin, Springer, pp 193-196.
    External Resources
  2. Baker C, Padden CA (1978): Focusing on the nonmanual components of American Sign Language; in Siple P (ed): Understanding Language through Sign Language Research. New York, Academic Press, pp 27-57.
  3. Gökgöz K (2013): Negation in Turkish Sign Language: the syntax of nonmanual markers; in Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins, pp 47-72.
    External Resources
  4. Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds) (2013): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins.
    External Resources
  5. Lupton L, Zelaznik H (1990): Motor learning in sign language students. Sign Lang Stud 67:153-174.
    External Resources
  6. Mauk CE, Tyrone ME (2012): Location in ASL: insight from phonetic variation. Sign Lang Ling 15:128-146.
  7. Neidle C, Kegl J, MacLaughlin D, Bahan B, Lee RG (2000): The Syntax of American Sign Language: Functional Categories and Hierarchical Structure. Cambridge, MIT Press.
    External Resources
  8. Ormel E, Crasborn·(2011): Kinematic properties of lexical and transitional movements in Sign Language of the Netherlands; in Efthimiou E, Kouroupetroglou G (eds): Proceedings of the 9th International Gesture Workshop. Athens, pp 80-83.
  9. Peterson GE, Barney HL (1952): Control methods used in a study of vowels. J Acoust Soc Am 24:175-184.
    External Resources
  10. Pfau R (2002): Applying morphosyntactic and phonological readjustment rules in natural language negation; in Meier RP, Cormier KA, Quinto-Pozos D (eds): Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Languages. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp 263-295.
    External Resources
  11. Pfau R, Quer J (2010): Nonmanuals: the grammatical and prosodic roles; in Brentari D (ed): Sign Languages. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp 381-402.
    External Resources
  12. Quinto-Pozos D, Mehta S (2010): Register variation in mimetic gestural complements to signed language. J Pragmat 42:557-584.
    External Resources
  13. Sandler W, Lillo-Martin D (2006): Sign Language a nd Linguistic Universals. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  14. Stokoe WC (1960): Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf. Silver Spring, Linstok.
  15. Sutton-Spence R, Boyes Braem P (eds) (2003): The Hands Are the Head of the Mouth. Seedorf, Signum.
  16. Sze F (2013): Nonmanual markings for topic constructions in Hong Kong Sign Language; in Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins, pp 111-142.
    External Resources
  17. Tyrone ME, Nam H, Saltzman E, Mathur G, Goldstein L (2010): Prosody and movement in American Sign Language: a task-dynamics approach. Speech Prosody 100957:1-4.
  18. Weast T (2008): Questions in American Sign Language: A Quantitative Analysis of Raised and Lowered Eyebrows; PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington.
    External Resources
  19. Wilbur RB (1990): An experimental investigation of stressed sign production. Int J Sign Product 1:41-59.
  20. Wilbur RB (1999): Stress in ASL: empirical evidence and linguistic issues. Lang Speech 42:229-250.
  21. Wilbur RB (2000): Phonological and prosodic layering of nonmanuals in American Sign Language; in Emmorey K, Lane H (eds): The Signs of Language Revisited: Festschrift for Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima. Mahwah, Erlbaum, pp 213-244.
  22. Wilbur RB (2009): Effects of varying rate of signing on ASL manual signs and non-manual markers. Lang Speech 52:245-285.

Author Contacts

Martha E. Tyrone

Haskins Laboratories

300 George Street, Suite 900

New Haven, CT 06511 (USA)

E-Mail tyrone@haskins.yale.edu


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Received: February 10, 2015
Accepted: January 06, 2016
Published online: May 27, 2016
Issue release date: June 2016

Number of Print Pages: 21
Number of Figures: 11
Number of Tables: 1

ISSN: 0031-8388 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0321 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/PHO


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References

  1. Antzakas K, Woll B (2002): Head movements and negation in Greek Sign Language; in Wachsmuth I, Sowa T (eds): Gesture and Sign Language in Human-Computer Interaction. Berlin, Springer, pp 193-196.
    External Resources
  2. Baker C, Padden CA (1978): Focusing on the nonmanual components of American Sign Language; in Siple P (ed): Understanding Language through Sign Language Research. New York, Academic Press, pp 27-57.
  3. Gökgöz K (2013): Negation in Turkish Sign Language: the syntax of nonmanual markers; in Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins, pp 47-72.
    External Resources
  4. Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds) (2013): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins.
    External Resources
  5. Lupton L, Zelaznik H (1990): Motor learning in sign language students. Sign Lang Stud 67:153-174.
    External Resources
  6. Mauk CE, Tyrone ME (2012): Location in ASL: insight from phonetic variation. Sign Lang Ling 15:128-146.
  7. Neidle C, Kegl J, MacLaughlin D, Bahan B, Lee RG (2000): The Syntax of American Sign Language: Functional Categories and Hierarchical Structure. Cambridge, MIT Press.
    External Resources
  8. Ormel E, Crasborn·(2011): Kinematic properties of lexical and transitional movements in Sign Language of the Netherlands; in Efthimiou E, Kouroupetroglou G (eds): Proceedings of the 9th International Gesture Workshop. Athens, pp 80-83.
  9. Peterson GE, Barney HL (1952): Control methods used in a study of vowels. J Acoust Soc Am 24:175-184.
    External Resources
  10. Pfau R (2002): Applying morphosyntactic and phonological readjustment rules in natural language negation; in Meier RP, Cormier KA, Quinto-Pozos D (eds): Modality and Structure in Signed and Spoken Languages. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp 263-295.
    External Resources
  11. Pfau R, Quer J (2010): Nonmanuals: the grammatical and prosodic roles; in Brentari D (ed): Sign Languages. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp 381-402.
    External Resources
  12. Quinto-Pozos D, Mehta S (2010): Register variation in mimetic gestural complements to signed language. J Pragmat 42:557-584.
    External Resources
  13. Sandler W, Lillo-Martin D (2006): Sign Language a nd Linguistic Universals. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  14. Stokoe WC (1960): Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf. Silver Spring, Linstok.
  15. Sutton-Spence R, Boyes Braem P (eds) (2003): The Hands Are the Head of the Mouth. Seedorf, Signum.
  16. Sze F (2013): Nonmanual markings for topic constructions in Hong Kong Sign Language; in Herrmann A, Steinbach M (eds): Nonmanuals in Sign Language. Philadelphia, Benjamins, pp 111-142.
    External Resources
  17. Tyrone ME, Nam H, Saltzman E, Mathur G, Goldstein L (2010): Prosody and movement in American Sign Language: a task-dynamics approach. Speech Prosody 100957:1-4.
  18. Weast T (2008): Questions in American Sign Language: A Quantitative Analysis of Raised and Lowered Eyebrows; PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington.
    External Resources
  19. Wilbur RB (1990): An experimental investigation of stressed sign production. Int J Sign Product 1:41-59.
  20. Wilbur RB (1999): Stress in ASL: empirical evidence and linguistic issues. Lang Speech 42:229-250.
  21. Wilbur RB (2000): Phonological and prosodic layering of nonmanuals in American Sign Language; in Emmorey K, Lane H (eds): The Signs of Language Revisited: Festschrift for Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima. Mahwah, Erlbaum, pp 213-244.
  22. Wilbur RB (2009): Effects of varying rate of signing on ASL manual signs and non-manual markers. Lang Speech 52:245-285.
Figures

Tables