SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 48

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. itself is used response-wise, so that it has not the linguistic status of the head-eye dip; but its physical structure keeps it much closer to the visual linguistic activity than kinestic activity is to speech. However, considered by itself this level of visual behavior would seem to be very like kinesics in structure and ‘meaning’, as it is perhaps the closest communication link between the deaf and the hearing. This part of the communication of the deaf, that is both the dip and the smile kind of activity, needs much more investigation; for it is the key to syntactical structure. Moreover, it is perhaps a very large part of what the earlier students termed ‘the natural sign language’. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (Annals, 1847) writes of an experiment in this vein. Without using hands at all he ‘signed’ a story to a class in The American School. One way suppose that this successful communication is the close counterpart of the game that the linguistically curious play by applying stress, pitch, and juncture to a continuous and unvarying vocalization, a hum say, even carrying on fairly intelligible conversations in this way. 3.4. Having found that some of this visible activity has patterned syntactical uses, the writer looked back over much of the data and in retrospect reexamined many remembered sign language utterances. Many questions besides ‘Remember?’ were signed simply by the ‘questioning look’ with a sign. Another way of asking a question also appears, which is more formal and less frequent; that is ‘making a question mark’: the index hand draws the shape of the punctuation mark, or the finger crooks and straightens with a thrust, G (?) , or, G # . This question mark sign permits an English question sentence order, and indeed that order and sign are most often observed in simultaneous English-Sign use, especially in lecture or faculty meeting situations. The facially signaled question will often have a genuine sign language word order. For example an informant on film signs: mF × > × f-o-r-d lM #^ AA r~ Word-for-sign this is ‘pontiac’ ‘ford’ ‘better’ ‘which’. He makes it a question by the ‘look’ that means question to anyone in our culture. If we show that look symbolically by 2, the sign sentence may be written: mF × > × f-o-r-d lM #^ AA r~ 2 and translated now: Which do you like better, Pontiac or Ford? The translation is still approximate because one cannot be sure whether ‘like better’ and ‘be better’ are distinct in this teen-age signer’s thinking. The same kind of checking for patterned occurrences of the eye-head dip shows that it not only marks a response as in the ‘remember’ use but also serves as a much more frequent way to SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 48