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Role Shifting in ASL
Transcript of Role Shifting in ASL
Role Shifting is an important aspect of ASL grammar, and conveys the following:
*It differentiates between characters in a story or message.
*It allows the narrator to “speak” from a character’s perspective.
*Places a quoted phrase or passage in the context of a visual interaction.
*Eliminates the need for redundant “He said.../She said…” dialogue.
ASL uses "role shifting" where the signer assumes the role of various characters in his story.
What does "role shifting" include?
*Body shifting: characters are designated into a set location (right/left/center/up/down) and remain there consistently.
*Facial expressions = emotions of the characters can and should be conveyed for clarity (i.e. anger, surprise, joy, etc.).
Eye gaze establishes referents in space (right/left, up/down)
Eye gaze depends on the subjects considered and the actions taking place (i.e. teacher/student, cop/motorist, etc.).
*Character traits/mannerisms: one must also consider the physical mannerisms of the character
(i.e. prissy woman, pouting child, elderly man, animal, etc.)
include those simultaneous actions that the character is also engaged in (i.e. dog barking, chewing food, etc.)
There are different types of role shifting
1) One character
-The narrator becomes the character, taking on his/her actions, manners, and feelings. In order for a role shift to be successful, the signer must involve both the body and the eyes. His/her eye gaze must appear to be truly looking at the person, place, or thing he/she is interacting with or referring to.
2) Two character
- The signer shifts from narrator in a dialogue/interplay to two distinctly different characters. The character shifting must include all of the fitting actions (eye gaze, expressions, and mannerisms) of each character, and must be consistently differentiated in space.
3) Multiple characters
- This signer takes on an infinite number of characters, while maintaining the consistent body shifting, eye gaze, traits, etc.
- The more characters involved, the trickier it is to consistently account for each character!
Role Shifting Example
View the first few minutes of this video to see examples of Role Shifting! (The video is a little long.)