forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Wed May 27, 1998  10:37 am
Subject:  Two-Way SW Dictionaries

Hello Everyone!
I have not forgotten all your wonderful messages about two-way SignWriting
dictionaries - and I will answer each message in detail in time. I want to
thank you for your ideas and input. Right now, just know that we also have
been working with two-way dictionaries since the beginning of SignWriting
in 1974. But for this moment, let me respond to the most recent question
from a computer programmer, Leonardo Mahler, who is working on developing a
SignWriting Chat Room in Brazil.... Here is Leonardo's message, with my
response below:
>Valerie Sutton wrote:
>> 5. And last...for several years we have been working on a new computer
>> program called SignWriter 5.0, which is a totally new piece of software
>> written in Java. We are not done, but I am hoping that we can have the
>> first version ready for the new school year too. For those of you
>> interested in computers, some of you probably wonder why it wasn't
>> completed long ago! The only answer is time and money - and we have little
>> of both. However, the benefits will be so great that I hope to devote time
>> to this, this summer. I am working with java programmers. I am not a
>> programmer myself, but I designed the symbols and keyboards, and work with
>> the many spoken and signed languages that are a part of SignWriter. My part
>> of the work has to do with editing the symbols themselves. Since we are
>> moving from an MS-DOS platform to the Macintosh and Windows, the symbols
>> themselves have to be fixed up dot by dot in a special editor, because the
>> graphics is handled differently in these new machines. I am half way done
>> with the symbol editing. I will keep you posted as to our progress.
>Valerie: How are you? Fine? Remember me? I think so! Well, about your
>message... maybe you can answer this question for us:
>--> In Sign Writer user can write the word and dic returns the symbol...ok? Do
>you know if is possible the user create the symbol and the dic return the word
>that this symbol represents??
>Thanks for atention, Leonardo Mahler.

Hello Leonardo!
All of our two-way dictionaries have been done by hand to date. Our
SignWriter Computer Program, version 4.3, for MS-DOS has an excellent
dictionary feature, and some people have created dictionaries with over
5000 signs in SignWriter 4.3, but our programmer, Richard Gleaves, was
donating his time and did not have the time to create the software for the
reverse dictionary - one that looks up by "Sign-Symbol-Sequence". As you
know Sutton's Sign-Symbol-Sequence creates categories of looking up by
SignWriting symbols - and it is not only based on looking up by handshape,
but also by movements and facial expressions, depth and height and many
other factors that come into the picture, when you are developing software.
So the task became overwhelming from a computer programming perspective,
and that particular part of the software never got, at this
time, SignWriter 4.3 only looks up by eight spoken languages.

That does not mean that we did not want to look up by only means we had the frustration of not
completing the software. Meanwhile, another programmer, Mike Ogawa, gave us
a mini-Macintosh program for looking up by Sign-Symbol-Sequence, but that
is not used any longer as it needed more work too. Funny - I thought of
that the other was called SignBank I and II. SignBank I looked up
by words. SignBank II looked up by symbols. BUT...they never were completed

Of course, now we are working on SignWriter 5.0 for Java, and that work
will continue for years. By the end of the summer we only hope to have a
very basic program. Right now our focus is to get SignWriter to run on the
web, on the Mac and on Windows.

So the answer is NO...unfortunately right now our software doesn't do
two-way dictionaries - Maybe you can develop this?

I am going to accept people's help - I need all of your help - the ideas
are all there - but the implementation is another story. I can't do it
alone and I noticed that others of you have already offered to help and I
accept. So we will all talk more soon. Maybe some of you can help me with
the two-way dictionary entry work - I would love that :-)

Thanks for your interest Leonardo, and we all want to hear how your SW Chat
Room is going :-)

All the best -

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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