10 Describing People

English Notes
BSL Video

Describing People

The Deaf and hearing communities have different rules about the type of details you give when identifying another person. In BSL, brief physical descriptions are often part of identifying people. As with name signs, hearing communities may initially think the descriptions are rude or blunt.

A person, who is present, might be described in the following way:

Signer A asks Signer B if s/h knows who Pam is. Signer B is not sure. Signer A tries to point her out in the crowd, adding information about her hair colour and style, colour and type of clothing, who she is signing or talking to and her body posture (e.g. sitting or standing, signing or watching another signer).

A description of someone who is not present might include the following details:

Signer A asks who Joe is. Signer B describes him by his body size, any distinctive physical characteristics, his occupation, and his friendship or relationship to people Signer A knows.


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