Mouth Morphemes Review

Mouth Morphemes

Video Review by Chris Wixtrom     © 1997

Mouth Morphemes in American Sign Language
by Kevin Struxness. Forward by Dr. Lawrence R. Fleischer.
DeBee Communications, 1996. (URL:
Video, 60 minutes, Sign Language and Subtitled.

At last!* Mysteries of American Sign Language mouth-motions are revealed! Have you been desperately looking for* a really interesting* and expert* presentation of mouth-centered facial expressions, with guidelines to help you incorporate this important grammatical information into your signing? Then you are lucky* to have found this practical, can-do* instructional video, and you simply must* take a look* at it! You will be amazed* at the many* distinct movements, and the significant amount of grammatical information they carry. Very likely, as you come to appreciate the exhaustive effort* that must have gone into the making of this ASL video course, and the great achievement* that it represents, you will want to* own a copy for yourself.

On screen, the individual mouth movements are shown full-face and close-up simultaneously. The words or phrases given as examples are highlighted as the signer uses the associated expressions. Signed sentences then provide fuller context* for each morpheme. Although there are some odd labels tagging the morphemes (such as twiggled, twinged and muttered) viewers won't mind* this too much, especially in light of the excellent* demonstrations and the practical value* of the information given. It's no exaggeration* to claim that everyone who uses ASL, including students, instructors, interpreters, interpreter trainers, and native signers, would benefit* from viewing this video. The linguistic analysis is sophisticated* enough to pique the interest of* persons with a Ph.D.* in linguistics, yet it is clear* enough to reach viewers who are new to* ASL, and even some who may be simply curious* about how a visual language is structured.

The great majority of the sample sentences fit within parameters characteristic* of ASL, but some seem to lean a bit too far towards* English-influenced signing. There is one other minor glitch* in this otherwise laudable* video: a production error* evidenced by a momentarily blank* screen. Admittedly,* this video is on the high end* in price, but its value is off the charts,* because it gives the viewer a wealth of* information about recent* research inASL linguistics, along with practical* applications for everyday* signing. Get your hands on Mouth Morphemes.

      * These words and phrases are associated with mouth morphemes included in the video.

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