forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  "Angus B. Grieve-Smith"
Date:  Fri Aug 27, 1999  1:08 pm
Subject:  Re: question to linguists...

On Thu, 26 Aug 1999, William McGruder wrote:

> So perhaps what's really needed here is a new classification of
> writing systems. Ideograms and syllabries and phonemes (root word
> phono, sound) and alphabets don't really apply, IMHO, to Sign
> Languages. Maybe we could coin a new word for a spoken language to
> describe this: Gesteme, using the root of Gesture. Obviously a word
> for the Sign Languages isn't needed as, AFIK, "Sign" is used.

Stokoe actually did this back in 1960, with his "cheremes" from a
Greek root meaning gesture. In the 70s people argued that what signers do
is cognitively equivalent to phonology, so they don't need a separate
word. Hence, "cherology" never took hold, and "sign phonology" became the

Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Linguistics Department
The University of New Mexico

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