Mouth-based non-manual coding schema used in the Auslan corpus: explanation, application and preliminary results

Trevor Johnston, Jane van Roekel

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    We describe a corpus-based study of one type of non-manual in signed languages (SLs) — mouth actions. Our ultimate aim is to examine the distribution and characteristics of mouth actions in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to gauge the degree of language-specific conventionalization of these forms. We divide mouth gestures into categories broadly based on Crasborn et al. (2008), but modified to accommodate our experiences with the Auslan data. All signs and all mouth actions are examined and the state of the mouth in each sign is assigned to one of three broad categories: (i) mouthings, (ii) mouth gestures, and (iii) no mouth action. Mouth actions that invariably occur while communicating in SLs have posed a number of questions for linguists: which are ‘merely borrowings’ from the relevant ambient spoken language (SpL)? which are gestural and shared with all of the members of the wider community in which signers find themselves? and which are conventionalized aspects of the grammar of some or all SLs? We believe these schema captures all the relevant information about mouth forms and their use and meaning in context to enable us to describe their function and degree of conventionality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBeyond the Manual Channel
    Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the 6th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages
    EditorsOnno Crasborn, Eleni Efthimiou, Evita Fotinea, Thomas Hanke, Julie Hochgesang, Jette Kristoffersen, Johanna Mesch
    Place of PublicationParis, France
    PublisherEuropean Language Resources Association
    Number of pages8
    ISBN (Print)9782951740884
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    EventInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (9th : 2014) - Reykjavik, Iceland
    Duration: 26 May 201431 May 2014


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (9th : 2014)
    CityReykjavik, Iceland

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • sign language
    • corpus
    • ELAN
    • non-manuals
    • Auslan
    • Australian Sign Language


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