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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Thu May 13, 1999  5:41 pm
Subject:  Re: Question about LH in "across"

Wayne Smith wrote:
> Anyway, my immediate reason for writing is to ask for clarification of
>the orientation symbols when the hand is not pointing up or out, but rather
>to one side or the other. An example is the ASL sign "across" as found on
>p. 3 of the dictionary. It's listed twice, once with the LH black and with
>a break, indicating parallel to the floor, and the other with the top part
>black and the bottom part white, but no break. Is this just two ways of
>writing the same thing? or are you referring to different forms of the sign
>"across"? I can only think of one way to sign "across" and either notation
>seems to be referring to that way of producing the sign. Am I missing

Hi Wayne -
You are not missing something! That is correct that we have two ways to
write the same sign.

SignWriting can be written from "different viewpoints". It is up to the
writer to choose the viewpoint.

Overhead View
is marked by the "break or space at the knuckle joint". When people are
"looking down at their own hands" they oftentimes choose the overhead view
because that is what they are seeing. This viewpoint is considered to be
"parallel with the floor". It is also a little closer to the chest.

Front View
is seen more from a far. You are not looking "down" at your own hands.
Instead you are seeing your hands a little further away and in front of
you. Technically, the front view is "parallel with the front wall".

But the case you are talking about is unique, because in that case the hand
is pointing to the side. So you can choose EITHER the overhead view or the
front view and still understand the sign.

There is a slight difference in depth, but otherwise it is the same sign
written two different ways.

I came across this detail the other day in a far more complex example, and
so I realize that I do need to write an explanation of this with diagrams
in the future.

Meanwhile, I hope this helped a little.

I remember that Steve and Dianne Parkhurst in Madrid, who are writing their
own textbook on SignWriting, included instruction on this issue - so
perhaps they can explain it better than I can!

I am a very visual person, and I see patterns in space. Describing those
patterns in words is not my greatest forte! That is why I like visual
symbols - they say so much so quickly!

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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