Polite appearances: How non-manual features convey politeness in British Sign Language

Autor/a: MAPSON, Rachel
Año: 2014
Editorial: Journal of Politeness Research, 10(2): 157-184
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


This paper explores how non-manual features are key to conveying linguistic politeness in British Sign Language (BSL). Data were collected through five semi-structured interviews incorporating the elicitation of two speech acts commonly associated with research on linguistic politeness: requests and apologies. The data from this exploratory study suggest that non-manual features (including specific mouth gestures and movements of the head and upper body) are more crucial for linguistic politeness than manual signs. The data indicate a degree of commonality between the features used for politeness in BSL and those previously identified in American Sign Language (Roush 1999; Hoza 2001, 2007). While non-manual features convey both linguistic and paralinguistic meaning in signed language (Sandler and Lillo-Martin 2006), their use in politeness highlights the complexity of the interaction between these two functions and illuminates an aspect of politeness frequently overlooked in much research: the use of intonation. Analysis of the use of non-manual features for politeness also problematizes the categorization of politeness strategies using existing frameworks developed on spoken languages, such as the internal modifications outlined by Blum-Kulka et al. (1989).


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