Facial Expression
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Sign Language:
Facial Expression

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 message.

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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