To watch a person communicating in a sign language is to observe a well-coordinated, multi-channel display of bodily motion. Most salient in this display is movement of the hands, which transmit lexical, morphological, and timing information. In coordination with the hands, motion of the mouth and lower face performs phonological, morphological, and gestural functions. Simultaneously, movement of the head and body provides a kind of prosodic shell to house the signing hands. Prominently embedded in this outer shell are the brows and eyes, whose movements provide intonation, the visual “tunes” of the message. The same physical articulators are all exploited by speakers as well, to augment the linguistically organized vocal–auditory signal.1 But in sign language, it is these visually perceived actions that convey the linguistic signal itself, in a synchronized panoply of motion.
|Name||The Blackwell Companion to Phonology|