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ASL Head Movements: Critical Features in Interpretation — From Deaf Eyes on Interpreting

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DEOnIbookpageThis is the sixth weekly installment featuring highlights from the 20 chapters in the new book, Deaf Eyes on Interpreting, edited by Thomas K. Holcomb and David H. Smith which is scheduled to be released in June by Gallaudet University Press. This chapter, “ASL Head Movements: Critical Features in Interpretation,” was co- written by Keith Cagle, Sharon Lott, and Phyllis Wilcox.

Can a simple nod or shake of the head contribute to misunderstanding of interpreted messages? Yes! As Sharon Lott explains in the video clip above, head movements are an essential prosodic feature of ASL, but ASL curricula typically do not devote much attention to their study.  The authors contend that interpreters need to understand the different roles and functions of head movements in ASL in order to do their work effectively. Otherwise, Deaf people will continue to be confused by their interpreted messages.