forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sun May 17, 1998  12:05 pm
Subject:  Re: Language History or Standardization of ASL

On Thu, 14 May 1998, Therese Shellabarger wrote:

>In a message dated 98-05-14 11:21:35 EDT, you write:
>> and in another message - in a day or so - I will discuss what is happening
>> with the standardization of "sign spellings".
>I'm not sure you can apply the same idea to signwriting because you are
>describing motion and there are different signs for similar concepts in ASL.
>So you may standardize an individual sign, but I don't think you can
>standardize what people sign for a given concept.

Hello Therese -
Thank you for this point. I am in complete agreement with you, of course!

My term, "sign spellings" has nothing to do with vocabulary or concepts.
The SignWriting symbols themselves are not concepts, they are simply pieces
of hands and fingers and facial expressions, and movement arrows, that are
"put together" into "symbol units" and those "symbol units" are what I call
"sign spellings". And the combination of symbols can mean one thing in one
signed language, and another thing in another signed language. So people
who know the languages have to "attach" their own concepts to the what they
see on paper.

My point was simply that certain standards are naturally occurring, when
people write the same movements time and time again. So within our
"movement writing system" there are some standards developing naturally.
And no one is dictating those standards - they are just happening.

I think what we need is a more sophisticated SignWriting dictionary online.
Right now we have the ASL Picture Dictionary, but that is more for
children, and all of us on this list need more information to digest to
discuss this issue better.

SO....I am preparing a new dictionary on our SignWriting Web Site. I plan
to show "many spellings" or many ways to write the "exact same sign" in
this new dictionary. At the moment it will be in ASL, but I know this list
is international, with members from many countries, so I would be happy to
create other similar dictionaries in other signed languages too. We can
talk about this later :-)

For right now, I will start out with just a few basic ASL entries, and then
add more later. And I will announce when a new entry has been added. I will
be glad to answer your technical questions right here on the list - if you
cannot read a sign, tell me, and I will explain it. Plus we will be able to
discuss the different spellings.

I know we will all learn much from each other, and I am really looking
forward to discussing the individual signs with you :-)

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Valerie Sutton :-)

Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
(619)456-0098 voice
(619)456-0010 tty
(619)456-0020 fax

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