Part One continued...
Previous Page


"Deaf individuals who grew-up in the Deaf community use appropriate facial expression when they sign."
NOW SEE ORAL PRO-3 [pause]. THINK EXAGGERATED FACIAL-EXPRESS "Now I see Deaf people who grew up oral. I think their facial expression is too exaggerated when they sign."

Here are two examples from the same discussion with PE:

"You know that man who uses too much facial expression?"
I THINK TOO-MUCH. FACIAL-EXPRESS [signed with exaggeration and SCOWL]. NEED LESS.
"I think it is too much. His facial expression is too exaggerated. He needs to use less."

These examples and others in the data also illustrate that PE is not related to "feminine" topics, as is commonly thought. Frequency of PE did not increase when the conversational topics were "feminine" (e.g., cooking, or babies).

Factors That Constrain Pinky Extension

My findings suggest that handshape, syntactic category, and duration are linguistic constraints upon PE. Level of intimacy between signers appears to be a social constraint.


Prior to collecting data, I compiled a list of handshapes for which PE was physically possible. These were based in part on the taxonomy of ASL hand configurations identified by Liddell and Johnson (1984). The handshapes identified were A, S, 1, H, V, K, D, R, T, N, M, E, L, 0, and X. During data analysis, I also noticed several "bent' handshapes (e.g., LIMIT) that I had not identified. It had not occurred to me that a bent hand configuration would provide enough visual contrast to make PE possible. The following rounded and bent configurations were then added as physically possible hand configurations: C, bent B (e.g., HOUSE), bent 1 (e.g., VARIOUS).

Pinky extension actually occurred with far fewer hand configurations than those identified as physically possible. Table 3 sets forth the handshapes for which PE actually occurred and the number of occurrences for each. These findings suggest at least three phonological constraints. First, PE cannot occur with hand configurations in which the middle finger is extended (e.g., CL: VEHICLE or SEE). However, if all the fingers are extended but bent (e.g., WAIT or NUDGE), PE may occur.

Second, if the fingers are closed, and the pinky is not extended in the underlying lexical sign, then PE cannot occur if the thumb is also in a closed position. For example, it does not seem to occur on S handshapes (e.g., SAVE) or T handshapes (e.g., TRY). Rather, PE can occur with the fingers in a closed position only if the thumb is extended and away from

Next Page

Order This Book

Back to the Book