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From:  Mark Penner
Date:  Thu May 21, 1998  11:48 pm
Subject:  Introduction and a question

Mark Penner
I was born in the U.S., raised in Japan.
After 15 years training Deaf leaders in the Japanese Deaf church, I'm now
working with them on translating the Bible into Japanese Sign Language. As
we're producing and distributing it on video, we didn't think we'd need to
print it (after all, you can't write SL, right?), but we've run into some
problems. Either we record every translation change on video, a
time-consuming process that brings momentum to a grinding halt, or use
written Japanese for cueing. This is far quicker, but also far less
accurate. Each time you read the cue sheet, phrasing, rhythm, and facial
elements change, even though the Japanese text stays the same. Saving our
work accurately in written Japanese is impossible, and video is cumbersome.
Cueing our signers in front of the camera is difficult too. Its hard to
sign naturally when seeing written Japanese. So I joined SignWriting and
the list, trying to learn what I can.

Opinion Poll #1:
Which do you think is the most effective way to distribute SL literature
and why?
1) Video (painfully slow for searching, but everyone here has access to VCR)
2) Digital Video Disk (DVD--not many have it yet, but much more useable if
programmed well)
3) Signwritten Version (random access possible, very quick for searching,
but no one can read it)

Realisticly, how long will it take to learn SignWriting well enough to read
it and sign fluently in front of the camera?

What are the chances of convincing a whole community of Deaf people that
its worth learning when they've functioned just fine without it for all
their lives? Even learning it ourselves for recording and cueing isn't
going all that quickly. Japanese kanji (pictographs, Chinese characters)
are much quicker and easier, since we've already learned them, and
associate them with certain signs. Its the grammar part we need SignWriting

Mark and Mary Esther Penner
Tokyo, Japan

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