17.1 Time Lines

English Notes
BSL Video

Time lines

"Time lines" is a phrase used to describe the ways in which BSL expresses time through the use of lines drawn in space. Four types of time lines are demonstrated here, but there are more.

Line A runs parallel to the floor at shoulder height, moving behind and in front of the signer. The point just by the shoulder and moving slightly forwards is used to indicate times occurring between yesterday and the present. Further forward from this point is used to show the future. Movements towards and behind the shoulder indicate the past. There is some question as to whether these divisions are strictly accurate. For example, one sign for BEFORE is signed in front of the body (in the “future” space although the fingers move backwards). Another sign for BEFORE is signed on the cheek and moves forwards, as does the sign YESTERDAY. So the time lines are open to some variation.

Line B runs from the elbow, along the forearm and past the fingertips of the non-dominant arm, for example; TWO WEEKS (DURATION), BEFORE etc.

Line C runs in front of the signer from left to right, e.g. in the signs CONTINUOUS and FOREVER. (Note; Time signs have regional variations).


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