Sign Language & Emotions
by Valerie R. Carter
When you think of “language” you might just think of spoken languages, such as English, French or Spanish. However, language comes in many different formats and also involves body language and emotional language. Facial expressions are especially important with sign language, a visual form of communication.
When Lydia Callis’ animated sign language interpreting helped Mayor Michael Bloomberg warn New Yorkers about 2012 Superstorm Sandy, she became an overnight internet star. As Bloomberg spoke, Callis' face, hands and body spelled out the dangers for New Yorkers who could not hear. When Bloomberg said, "It is dangerous," a sense of peril visibly spread across her face. While Callis was spoofed on late night talk shows, the use of hands, body language, facial expressions and mouth movements all stress importance. They are similar to intonation and inflection in speech.
An interesting study shows that people who can sign have improved abilities to read general body language – an integral part of communication. Sign language also helps communicate emotions and sometimes allows people who can’t express their emotions in words easily, like young children and those with special needs, give voice to their feelings.
Learn a Sign a Week
Introduce a sign each week associated with an emotion such as afraid, happy, sad, etc. Say and sign the word multiple times each day and use appropriate facial expressions to match meanings. We will post a new emotion each week on our website. www.GraceSigns.org