Facial expressions in Sign Language are very
important because they express grammar. They are referred to as non-manual
grammatical markers, non-manual behaviors and/or non-manual signals.
Facial expressions are rule-governed. Facial expressions
for questions that require YES/NO answers are different from facial expressions
for WH-question words, e.g. WHO, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, etc.
1. YES/NO questions: - the eyebrows are raised, eyes are
open wide, head and shoulders are forward.
2. WH-questions: - the eyebrows are lowered, eyes are
narrowed, head forward with a slight tilt and shoulders forward.
If you change the facial expression you could convey an entirely different
There are other facial expressions that mark other
sentence types in Sign Language e.g. topicalisation, conditional sentences,
rhetorical questions, commands, etc.
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