Modification and intensifiers in BSL

A really common way of differentiating things like speed, weight, size, etc in BSL is using non-manual features (NMF) such as modifiers and intensifiers. For example, when expressing the speed of someone cycling, I would use a single sign to represent both the fact they were cycling and the speed at which they were going (rather that a sign for ‘cycling’ and one for ‘fast’). This is achieved by both the speed of your signing and also your facial expression – e.g. for ‘cycling quickly’ you might sign ‘cycling’, moving your hands very quickly and clenching your teeth.

Some common uses of facial features for such differentiation are as follows:

  • Pursed lips: taking your time
  • Clenched teeth: in a rush
  • Puffed cheeks: doing hard work, talking about something large/heavy
  • Closed lips (MM): as normal, steadily
  • TH: carelessly/messily, boring
  • Pouted lips: small, few, cheap

P.S. I didn’t do a signed version of this post as I wasn’t quite sure where to start! Apologies but I’m just not good enough šŸ™‚

1 thought on “Modification and intensifiers in BSL

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