forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Stefan Woehrmann
Date:  Sun Aug 22, 1999  7:45 pm
Subject:  Re: looking through writer's eyes....

Hello Valerie and Everyone -

Thank you for your answer. It really helps to mirror my own efforts as a
>To look through my eyes at signed languages around the world is to think
>visually, with no sound. I see all human movement as a series of frames -
>like a video or a film - but these "frame by frame moments" are captured in
>SignWriting symbols, instead of actual pictures. When I see a person
>signing, and I am writing the movements, I see the SW symbols on their
>hands and faces.

Visiting a family of one of my new pupils I had to learn - and was kindly
informed - how I have to behave and what I do have to respect being in
contact with them. I remember my efforts to pronounce some words correctly
in their language - Arabic - when I asked them to teach me "hello" - "good
-bye" - "Thank You".
Compared to my auditory memory, my memory for movements is very limited. If
I perceive significant signs (DGS) I do better - but being a "late- bloomer"
at Signlanguage I 敝 e difficulties with the speed. It 北 not so hard to sign
in "high- speed" - but it 北 difficult to work up all the incoming visual

So it would help to get lots of stills. In fact - that`s the way I tried
to improve my SL - skills.

Here is the picture - what 北 to be concentrated on?

"- first thing I see is the facial expression (or the lack thereof). -Next of the body, and the levels of the hands as they relate to that
-Then I look at palm facing. (light or dark).

As I watch signing, I look for the "flash" between light and dark, to
capture the palm facing. And I see space divided into imaginary planes...and
I see
>all movement and hand positions in relation to those planes - the plane
>that is parallel with the wall - up and down, and the plane that is
>parallel with the floor - forward and back - the planes are like a backdrop
>and everything the body does relates to them.

Great - so when I got your feedback of having accomplished all the helpful
exercises that will lead in the end to SW - then I`ll know how to arange
my attention.

But in the meantime ??? - I painted lots of circles, fist - and
I started to "paint" carefully some of the signs from the dictionary. I
looked at them - closed the screen and "painted" the signs as I could
remember it.
I`ve got great difficulties to imagine how to construct SW-symbols if the
handshape changes during the movement (Nicaragua)

I guess I need exercises that show wether I can master a special level .
That 北 why I was so interested in the dictionary of Daniela Remi 俗 de
As the pupil I can 辈 think of the best method to reach quickly a higher
I do remember when I was learning to play Cello.
I do remember when I was learning to swim.(table- tennis, Judo, )
With a competent and friendly teacher I learnt step by step pretty good! :-)

I know that this isn 辈 the right place to start again and again all the
beginners problems. I admire your patience and kindness answering all my
questions and doubts. I guess that a lot of persons asked you for your

Being new at the SW-List I don 辈 know which question or which idea has been
discussed exhaustivly - I don 辈 want to bother anybody.

>And as you know, I am not a linguist, nor do I know most of the signed
>languages I write. You could send me a video of German Sign Language,
>Stefan, and I would not understand what was said, but I could still write
>the movements I see on the video.

I would love to do that. There are also Sign-language CD 北 showing DGS signs
. I`ve got as well videos with excellent deaf signers. On Sundays there is
a telecast "Sehen statt H 舭 en" ....

>So to see signed languages through my eyes, is looking through the eyes of
>a movement notator, not a signer. Yes...I do sign now, but SignWriting was
>invented when I knew no signed language.

>And I never ask what the sign means....I only try to capture how it is
It 北 just the opposite to me ;-) (I still feel happy if I realize that I can
follow a signed message, comment etc. without too much problems.) is hard to become a
>beginning student as an adult...

Learning is one of my hobbies. So don 辈 worry about my persistence and
strength. When I finished my studies in Psychology the issue of frustration
- and how to deal with that was one of my special subjects. :-)))

But in time, it starts to make sense. It
>is just a matter of practice and repetition.

Day by day a little bit. I do know that from other learning experiences.

Wouldn 辈 it be a good idea to install a group of beginners (around the
world) who have to do their homework during the week. Maybe we can send our
products of arts till Saturday. The instructor of this internetcourse would
accept or insist on corrections ;-)
It 北 just an idea --

I could imagine as well a kind of "godfather" for beginners. You wrote that
there is the one or other skilled signer and skilled SignWriter in the big
SW-family. It could be an interesting experience for both of them
(instructor and learner). In addition to that you all would get additional
feed back - not only from the schools but from adults as well.
I > not an expert on computering - don 辈 know whether these ideas are
practicable. ... What do you think?

And as dictionaries grow, it
>will become easier too.

Can you help me my SW- DGS dictionary to get started?
>What is important to note is that it seems that Deaf children do not have
>the same fears as adults. I doubt if Deaf children see imaginary planes
>cutting space! But they read the signs immediately...there is a visual
>logic that makes sense to them. So children are the most intuitive
>learners. We adults make things harder :-)
I 盻 l report about my experiences in my classroom later :-)))

>You ask about articles about the development of SignWriting....this article
>might be of interest:
>How SignWriting Has Changed
>The Evolution of Writing Styles

Thank you! It 北 like a big mosaik - piece by piece ... it really helps!!
We have quite a number of skilled signers and skilled SignWriters on the SW
>List - I hope they will tell us what they see, when they view signed
>languages. Perhaps we can take a look through your eyes too...
Would be great! I > going to mail my letter of introduction soon. Maybe the
one or other member of the SW will be interested.

>Many kind regards

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