5.9 Visually Motivated signs

English Notes
BSL Video

Visually Motivated Signs


Although BSL has arbitrary signs, most BSL signs have some visual motivation behind them so that the sign is in some way related to the referent. Even so, the relationship between sign and referent is also conventional (mostly, although in productive signs, even convention is less important). Visually motivated signs can be more or less transparent (easy to guess by someone who does not know the language) or opaque (not easy to guess). Some are used by hearing people as well e.g. DRINK, LISTEN and SHH and others are not used by hearing people but are fairly easy to guess e.g. DRIVE, SMOKE and BIRD. In fact it is often easy to see that a sign is visually motivated when you know what it reflects, but not before then.

QUIZ

THINK OF THREE SIGNS THAT ARE STRONGLY TRANSPARENT AND THREE SIGNS THAT ARE LESS TRANSPARENT, SO THEY ARE NOT SO EASY TO GUESS, EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE VISUALLY MOTIVATED.


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