Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

Clip 0.7: Non-manual signals, question forms


Non-manual signals, question forms

You have probably realised deaf people use a lot of facial expressions when they are signing. Hearing people use facial expressions too, but less than deaf people as hearing people express themselves more using variation in their voices.

Deaf people can't hear so instead use visual features such as facial expressions.

Sometimes a signed sentence must have certain facial expressions when signing in order to make grammatical sense and be clear. These expressions are referred to as 'non-manual signals' or NMS.

For example, if a signer asks a question, how do they make it clear that that is what they are doing? Through the use of NMS. In this case, the use of eyebrows by moving them up or down. If a signer asks a question to which they would expect an answer or either yes or no, they raise their eyebrows when signing the question.

Here are some examples.

So when a signer asks a question expecting an answer of yes or no, they raise their eyebrows when signing. This is called a "yes-no question".

Other times, a signer might ask a question where they expect a longer answer or full explanation. For example, a why, where, who, how, what question. This type of questions is called a "WH question", and for signing these questions, the signer must lower their eyebrows when they sign.

Take a look at some examples.

So there you have it – NMS facial expressions, like using eyebrows, are an important part of sign language.

Signing is much more than just the gestures.

Correct use of facial expression is essential. If the NMS are not correct, it means the whole sentence can become unclear.

I know hearing people are not used to using their faces this way.

Share with a friend

^ Back to top