Mouth shape, eye-brow height, and other face/head movementsare a required part of ASL, and identical hand movements may have different meanings depending on the face/head. Facial expressions change the meaning of adjectives (e.g., color intensity or distance magnitude) or convey adverbial information (e.g., carelessly or with relaxed enjoyment). The head/face indicates important grammar information about phrases … A sequence of signs may have different meanings, depending on the head/face;e.g., the ASL sentence “JOHN LOVE MARY” without facial expression means: “John loves Mary.” With a yes/no facialexpression, it indicates “Does John love Mary?” With a negative expression and headshake added during “LOVE MARY,” then the same sequence of signs indicates “John doesn’t love Mary.” (Facial expressions are timed to co-occur with hand movementsfor signs during specific parts of a sentence.) Further, ASL signers also use facial expressions to convey emotional subtext. Thus, facial expressions are essential to the meaning of ASL sentences.
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