On the rhythm of head movements in Finnish and Swedish Sign Language sentences

Author(s): Tommi Jantunen, Johanna Mesch, Anna Puupponen and Jorma Laaksonen


This paper investigates, with the help of computer-vision technology, the similarities and differences in the rhythm of the movements of the head in sentences in Finnish (FinSL) and Swedish Sign Language (SSL). The results show that the movement of the head in the two languages is often very similar: in both languages, the instances when the movement of the head changes direction were distributed similarly with regard to clause-boundaries, and the contours of the roll (tilting-like) motion of the head during the sentences were similar. Concerning differences, direction changes were found to be used more effectively in the marking of clause-boundaries in FinSL, and in SSL the head moved nearly twice as fast as in FinSL. However, the small amount of data means that the results can be considered to be only preliminary. The paper indicates the roll angle of the head as a domain for further work on head-related rhythm.