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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Mon Sep 6, 1999  6:34 pm
Subject:  Re: transpositions

>So my question is this; are signwriting symbols arranged in a
>linear order? (Obviously the words follow each other, but are the parts
>of a word--the movement arrow, the second hand shape if there is one,
>facial expression, etc--are these arranged into a linear (or any) order?


Hi Joe and everyone -
There are definite writing rules to writing both SignWriting and
DanceWriting, and those writing rules are intuitive, based on frames of
movement in space. Is that linear? Well...that depends on how you define is not only one direction - the writing of one sign can start
at the bottom and move up, or start at the top and move down, or start at
the diagonal and move in a circle. There is a beginning position, and an
ending position, and movement inbetween. You know where to start reading
each sign, because you know that the beginning position will be at the
beginning of the movement arrows' stem line. You move into the second
position where the arrowhead is located. So you "follow the arrow" no
matter what pattern the arrow is in.

Sometimes both beginning and ending positions are written. Sometimes one or
the other is thrown out. If the beginning position is thrown out (assumed)
then the sign begins with a movement symbol - it is very hard to explain a
visual writing system in English - but that is the general idea.

In regards to reading SignWriting, I can only tell you that "true literacy"
has been achieved, not only by me, but hundreds of Deaf people in several
countries. Right now, Deaf children are reading literature written in
Nicaraguan Sign Language, and it is a part of their daily lives - not just
an exercise in research.

SignWriting documents are read as quickly and as naturally as people read
newspapers written in spoken languages. How is it done? I have never
analyzed it - we just do it - and it is easy -

So linguists need to become fluent in SignWriting themselves, so they can
analyze it from a linguistic perspective :-)

Valerie ;-)


Valerie Sutton..............................................SignWritingSite

Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting...Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization...Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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