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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue Feb 23, 1999  11:01 pm
Subject:  Re: topics


> Perhaps the best thing then would be to write the Signs and then
>next to the
>Sign which is the Topic of the sentence or phrase, just write or draw two tiny
> I know it's corny, but it could work.
>-William J. "Chip" McGruder

February 23, 1999

Hi Everyone -
As you know, one of my computers is in the shop being repaired, so I am
running everything on one old and slow computer. And because I am printing
books for Albuquerque, this one computer is tied up with printing most of
the day - so that is slowing down my internet access time. So please excuse
my limited responses to your email messages...

And thank you for this message, Chip. Of course, you are correct, that
writing topic markers can be written with two tiny eyebrows...that is how
we write it in I don't think it is corny at all!

In SignWriting, the facial expression is an integral part of the sign
itself (it is not written to the side of the sign).

We have a lesson online, that teaches people how to write topic markers in

Writing ASL Grammar
Lesson 1: Topic Markers

And in that lesson, you will see that we show how to write these ASL sentences:

"Fish" me like trout.
(I like trout.)


"That car over there" want buy.
(I want to buy that car.)

The reason I brought up the subject in the first place is this...

More and more people are writing SignWriting, and because they are new to
writing signs, they oftentimes forget to write the facial expressions. And
facial expressions are a very important part of the grammar of signed
languages. Any facial expression can be written in is just
a matter of training, to know which facial expressions to write and which
ones not to write.

Sooo...if you are writing signs now in SignWriting, think about the facial
expressions you make when you sign. If you are writing ASL, you will notice
that sentences oftentimes start with "eyebrows up". As Joe Martin so aptly
pointed out, this is called "topicalization" (in linguistic terms).

So, try to add the facial expression to the beginning of your sentences.
That will be a beginning, and then later you can learn to write other
facial expressions too :-)

What about in other signed languages? How are "eyebrows up" used in Brazil,
or Spain, or Norway?

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton


The DAC, Deaf Action Committee for SW
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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