“Be comfortable with your face,” writes Regan Thibodeau, 42, a certified deaf interpreter who has translated national coronavirus briefings in Maine and interviewed via email. Do not consider facial expressions as an afterthought. Think of them as an essential tool for communication. “Hearing children are conditioned not to make faces because it is” impolite “in the listening culture besides showing,” says Thibodeau. “It’s the opposite for the deaf culture.” Thibodeau didn’t learn to sign until she was 6 because her mother denied her deafness. She only had facial expressions.
As a species, humans have a strong focus on the face. In any language, your face serves as a powerful tool for social communication, wordlessly conveying a whole range of messages about things like pain, love, fear, and pleasure. Shake off your no-nonsense indoctrination and let the full range of human experiences play on your facial features. A face can be more than sneering and smiling. Expressions can be a form of advanced linguistics. In American sign language, the face conveys both affect and grammar. With practice, your functions can perform discrete tasks at the same time, such as: B. opening the eyes to show surprises and at the same time communicating the conditional form by shifting gaze.
One way to improve your facial repertoire is with an American Sign Language course. In class, Thibodeau instructs her hearing students to play a story in silence using only their faces. She draws pictures that illustrate each oral morpheme – the lip and tongue postures that function as adjectives and adverbs. Signing does not translate English to your hands. About 80 percent of the grammar takes place elsewhere, mostly on the face. To get the most out of these more complex facial exercises, immerse yourself in what Thibodeau calls the American Sign Language language by living with, learning from, and working with deaf people.
Those who are most fluent in facial language are usually born deaf. At the hearing, even ASL interpreters have difficulty communicating with their faces, and most stick to what Thibodeau calls a “hearing accent”. Thibodeau interprets “deaf-centered” and combines with her face a combination of morphological, syntactic and emotional meaning that can only come from a life full of practice.