“Brave” and BSL (Bear Sign Language)

So I’m watching “Brave” not expecting to see any conlangs. I think I saw three. The exotic dialect of Doric Scots English, ref. here , and a “bear language” where the bear growls with the prosody of English and … about six signs of BSL: Bear Sign Language. If anyone reading this knows British Sign Language, I’d like to know if the signs were BSL or a made up conlang.

Bear Sign language has most hand positions as a half cupped palms facing self as the bear has limited articulation of the fingers.
Queen: Finger tips touch crown of head are raised up and out so that palms face up. Bristish SL version
We: Palms up facing self in front of chest both arms sweep out in circle. British SL Version Not too similar.
Follow: Hands up, palms facing self, hands alternately “hop”/”march” forward
Break: Hands palms towards chest, all finger tips touching roughly center raise hands up in arc, your elbows stay in place (rotate at elbows)
Write: Finger tips brush lines across other upright palm in lines, left to right and then repeating about 3 times.

I tried to find the BSL for the other signs, but there don’t seem to be many free BSL dictionaries online. I know from taking ASL class that Bear Sign Language is not ASL (edit- sorry, when I orig wrote this I said the reverse, oops). (In ASL, queen is a Q diagonally across the chest, We is a semicircle from shoulder to shoulder, break is miming breaking a rod, write is miming holding a pencil writing on your palm, follow is a two fists in the air moving as if one fist is following the other)

The bear is off camera for the rest of the sentence. The bear does raise eye brows while signing, but there isn’t enough info to see if is a grammatical marker or just a facial gesture.

And real bears use some sort of bear-human inter-sign language:

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3 Responses to “Brave” and BSL (Bear Sign Language)

  1. This is gesture, and is the equivalent of a human being playing charades. So either it’s not a language at all, or each time anyone plays charades they’re inventing a brand new language. There is a difference between sign languages and iconic gestures.

    • matthewdeanmartin says:

      Hmm, I’m getting sense of what counts as gesture and what is language from my reading of “The Talking Ape” by Burlington. For him an important differentiator was if a gesture (uh, waving of hands) was, loosely speaking, digital or analog. Anyhow, BSL in this movie is probably modified British Sign Language used by script writers who think that BSL is more iconic than it is and that people can learn a SL on the spot. In Alaskan rafter sign language BSL “queen” is pretty iconic for “dickhead”, the movie’s version of “write” is pretty close to ASL’s version of “list.” Also the bear sign language had hand shape (just one), a start point, ending point, a motion, all the typical morphemes of a real sign language– the camera cut away after each word so they didn’t show if there was any syntax. Good examples of charades would have someone doing something analog, e.g. showing size by gesturing the exact or proportional size of something.

      • Also the bear sign language had hand shape (just one), a start point, ending point, a motion, all the typical morphemes of a real sign language

        The exact same thing can be said of any gesture involving the hands. I’m not convinced even a little bit (and, honestly, when I read this initially half expected that you were making mock). I’ve seen the movie, but a video would be best—though, of course, we’d get a definite answer if we found an animator director and asked them, and my guess is they’d say that they never even thought of any sign language when they were making the movie.