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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Mon Mar 1, 1999  7:51 pm
Subject:  Re: Topic markers: an idea from Spain

On Wed, 24 Feb 1999 Steve Parkhurst wrote:

>At the beginning of the phrase we build a large square bracket that looks
>like this: [
>with the facial expression above it. At the end of the topicalized phrase
>(when the eyebrows go back to normal), we put another square bracket facing
>the other way: ]
>This tells the reader that everything between the bracket signs is
>topicalized. This saves a lot of time for both the reader and the writer.

>Steve :-)
>Steve and Dianne Parkhurst

March 1, 1999

Hi Steve and Everyone!
What an excellent message about writing topic markers in Spain.... I wish
you were here right now so I could show you what I am working on...I could
use your feedback...

I am in the process of completing and printing the intermediate and
advanced reading books, written in American Sign Language (transcribed from
videotape), for the teachers in the SignWriting Literacy Project. These
books were 80% completed back in August, 1998, but then the documents were
put aside.

Now I am returning to complete these documents, print them, and ship them
to the teachers. Once that is done, I will post them on the web in our
library, as new literature online. can imagine...when I looked at them again after all these
months... I have all kinds of new ideas and now I am so steeped in details
that I suspect I need to print the books and send them to the teachers, and
hopefully they will give me the feedback needed later.

Some of the issues are the exact same issues you brought up in your
message, Steve. Here are some of the questions I have come across:

1. How many facial expressions should we write, to be accurate, yet simple
enough for children?
2. How many facial expressions should be written to give "atmosphere"? I
know that seems like a strange let me explain...

In regards to "atmosphere"... Darline Clark Gunsauls, the teacher and
native signer who signed the stories in ASL on videotape, feels that
"smiling faces" are absolutely necessary in children's other
words...even though the smile may not carry important grammatical
information...Darline feels that "smiles" carry much more important
information - namely "a positive feeling that is connected to telling
stories to children". And I do agree with her :-)

You may remember in Cecilia Flood's description of her work with deaf
children, she mentioned "smiles" and how important they are for children's
well being.

The question I have is... "How many times should I include those smiling
faces?" I am putting them in occasionally, and I am not always sure my
choices are correct. That is why teacher feedback will be so vital...I am
looking forward to seeing what happens when these intermediate and advanced
reading books are presented to children.

But getting back to your point, Steve, about the brackets. I like the
brackets and I think they are excellent for detailed linguistic work. How
do you feel about using brackets for writing literature that others will
read for pleasure? I know you have already written quite a lot of
literature. When you receive feedback from readers...please share their
reactions with us...I am truly interested :-)

Thanks for the extensive work being done in Spain -

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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