This research project paper presents my observations and analysis of the expression of negation in Chinese Sign Language (CSL). I interviewed 15 Chinese Deaf adults in Beijing, China and videotaped those interviews. Some expressions of negation in CSL are similar to those found in other sign languages (e.g., ASL, BSL, and International Sign Language) in their linguistic aspects (e.g. non-manual signals, negative signs, and structures of negative sentences). On the other hand, I discovered that CSL has some unique features in the expression of negation. For example, there is a negative handshape, a fist with the little finger extended, the same handshape as the letter" I" in ASL; a horizontal hand wave used as a common negative sign (or gesture) often is substituted for a headshake.It seems that a horizontal hand wave and a side-to-side headshake have equivalent negative force, but they cannot be used simultaneously;and special structures that combine a positive sign and its negative form in many ways to function as "yes-no" question sentences. The structures of negative words and sentences show that CSL has a unique grammatical system.
Department, Program, or Center
Master of Science of Secondary Education of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (NTID)
Yang, Jun, "Expressing negation in Chinese sign language" (2005). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus