Posted by: learnsignlanguage | May 12, 2010

Non Manual Features in BSL

 Non manual features

Non manual features within British Sign Language is another component that makes this language so rich and beautiful. Emphasis is not only on the actual signs used but by how they are signed. 

Non manual features are actions produced by any part of the body other than the hands. They include actions of the eyes, mouth, cheeks, face, head, shoulders and torso. 

Non manual features have different types of function within the structure of the language and are an extremely important aspect of BSL.  

Facial expressions are perhaps the most obvious kind of non-manual feature, but movements of the head, shoulders and trunk are also included. For example the body may twist right or left, lean forwards or backwards and the shoulders may hunch, shrug or droop.

The BSL signer can make use of non manual signs to convey questions, negations, general responses or attitudes. The signer may use non manual question markers such as furrowed eye brows and hunched shoulders or raised eyebrows and open mouth to indicate a questioning attitude. Similarly the signer may use the negative headshake without any additional  manual sign.

It is common to see a signer use non manual features alongside manual signs rather than in isolation.

Learn Sign Language have created a workbook alongside the Level 2 British Sign Language DVD set which goes through 5 different grammar rules within BSL in quite a bit of detail

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