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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Discourse in Signed Languages
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figure 3.5. hey/polite grimace


figure 3.6. hey/polite grimace-frown

Two other NMMs mitigate more severe threats to face. Politeness grimace (pg) mitigates significant threats to face (Hoza, 2007, 2008; Roush, 2007) and polite grimace-frown (pg-frown) mitigates severe threats to face (Hoza, 2007, 2008). See figures 3.5 and 3.6 for illustrations of hey/pg and hey/pg-frown.

The other NMM, body teeter (bt), which is the only one of these five markers that involves a movement of the body rather than a manipulation of the mouth and lips, does not co-occur with hey in ASL. Hoza (2007) also notes that body teeter does not co-occur with the sign don’t-mind, although it can co-occur with well, which is further discussed below.

Unlike hey in ASL, hey in English occurs almost exclusively in casual situations. For example, compare “Hey, dude” with “Hey, Mr. President,” and compare “Pardon me, dude” with “Pardon me, Mr. President.” Hey does not seem to show the necessary deference to mitigate face in more formal situations. Thus, neither “Hey, Mr. President” nor “Pardon me, dude” seems to be appropriate. In contrast, hey in ASL is used in a greater range of registers, but the accompanying NMM (e.g., tight lips or polite grimace) indicate the amount of deference. Additional research is needed to determine the degree to which the modulation and size of the sign may also signal the degree of deference. This is one way in which the sign hey differs significantly from the English word hey.

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