Compound signs

I’ve mentioned compound signs in a previous post but I’ve studied them recently on my BSL course so I thought I’d go into a little more detail. A compound sign is one that is created by combining two (or more) other signs. For example, the sign for ‘believe’ is a combination of the signs for ‘think’ and ‘true’. Note that the lip pattern you use when a compound sign is the sign itself (e.g. ‘believe’) and not the words for the individual component signs (e.g. ‘think’ and ‘true’).

In general this make it easier to remember a few signs as they are made up of logical component signs but it can get a little confusing in some situations. An example that I always forget are the signs for ‘lifeguard’ and ‘lifeboat’. The ‘lifeguard’ sign is made up of the signs for ‘life’ then ‘rescue’, whereas the sign for ‘lifeboat’ is made up of the signs ‘rescue’ then ‘boat’.

A few other common examples are:

  • Deadline – date + cut-off
  • Stranger – person + who?
  • Answer – ask + response
  • Repeat – say + again
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3 thoughts on “Compound signs

  1. Hi Gareth,I think you're blog is fab! I'm a JTI (studying post-grad BSL/English Interpreting) and I've enjoyed reading & watching your blog. Just a tip – my tutor told me that it's really important not to make any sound when you sign – especially when you are interpreting. We try not to draw attention to the interpreting process, so be aware of lip smacking etc. I know that at levels 1 – 3 we are naturally copying what Deaf people do, but as we advance we need to recognise that Deaf people make noises when they sign because they can't hear themselves – we can, so we have a duty to monitor our vocal output! It really made me stop and think – though when I'm out with my deaf friends socially I don't worry about it! Good luck with it all – you're obviously doing a fantastic job!

  2. Hi Gareth,I think you're blog is fab! I'm a JTI (studying post-grad BSL/English Interpreting) and I've enjoyed reading & watching your blog. Just a tip – my tutor told me that it's really important not to make any sound when you sign – especially when you are interpreting. We try not to draw attention to the interpreting process, so be aware of lip smacking etc. I know that at levels 1 – 3 we are naturally copying what Deaf people do, but as we advance we need to recognise that Deaf people make noises when they sign because they can't hear themselves – we can, so we have a duty to monitor our vocal output! It really made me stop and think – though when I'm out with my deaf friends socially I don't worry about it! Good luck with it all – you're obviously doing a fantastic job!

  3. Hey Rachael,Thanks very much for the tip – I didn't realise that was something that should be avoided but makes a lot of sense to not draw attention to the interpreting process. Very interesting.

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