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ASL Grammar (continued)

Also see: ASL Grammar


Question: Are the brows to remain raised or lowered for the entire sentence, or just for the interrogative? In 'who she,' do the brows return to normal after "who"?

Answer:
It may help to think of eyebrow raising (and lowering) as a form of facial punctuation used for sign language grammar.
While punctuation typically occurs at the end of a sentence -- punctuation sometimes occurs in the middle or near the beginning of a sentence (for example, a comma).
The same variable positioning is true of the eyebrows in ASL facial grammar.

Don't overdo your punctuation (in either language) or it will become counter-productive (and rather annoying)..

On short questions (very short like 3 signs or fewer) it is okay to have your eyebrows raised (for yes/no questions) or lowered (for Wh-type questions) the whole time -- BUT for medium and longer sentences raising (or lowering) the eyebrows the whole time would look silly.

The question "Who is she?" can be asked a number of ways in ASL (just as it can be asked a number of different ways in English).

Topicalized: SHE?-[brows up] WHO?-[brows down] (Equivalent to the English: That girl over there? Who is she?)
Non-topicalized: "WHO SHE?" (Equivalent to the English: "Who is that?" Or "Who is she?")
Non-topicalized: "SHE WHO?" (Equivalent to the English: "This is who?" or "That's who?")

We could replace "SHE" with "IX"-[index] as a non-gender label for the pointing gesture since it could be used to refer to: HE/SHE/THEY-[singular]. Thus we could type: "IX WHO?" to refer to some unspecified 3rd person. When using the label "IX" we of course will need context to know to whom the IX refers (similar to how English pronouns also need context to be clearly understood).

If you signed the version "WHO SHE?" you would just keep your eyebrows down for both signs.



 



 

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