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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sat Jun 6, 1998  2:26 pm
Subject:  Re: Sinister SignWriters!

On Sat, 6 Jun 1998, Harry wrote :-).....

>Sinister SignWriters! Of course I am referring to the Latin
>for left-handed SignWriters!
>I am left-handed, and I sign AUSLAN, the AUstralian Sign
>LANguage derivative of British Sign Language and, therefore,
>uses the two-handed manual alphabet. As you may imagine,
>it sometimes takes a novice sign-reader a little adjustment to
>realise why the signs he or she is reading on the sinister signer's
>seem back to front!
>How many SignWriters on this list are left-handed? And do you
>find it troublesome to compose all your pictograms in the dexterous
>(right-handed) form? Otherwise, left-handed SignWriting may
>confuse readers. How is it for ASL and like languages (one-hand
>manual alphabet)?
>Harry Blackmore
>(not only left-handed, but also down-under!)

Hi Harry!

What a fun message...and as always I have learned something... I never knew
that the word "sinister" could mean "left-handed"...So of course I looked
it up in an English dictionary and it turns out it is connected to the word
"sinistral" which means "pertaining to the left side of the body". The word
can even mean "a wire that coils counterclockwise" - so anything "turning
to the left" can be sinister. I guess ballet dancers do pirouettes
sinistrally - ha!

Well...back to the real point...

SignWriting can easily record left-handed signing. Let me show you an
example....Darline and Kevin Clark wrote a newsletter, Spring, 1997.
Darline is left-handed, so she chose to write the signs left-handed. It is
posted on this web page:

SignWriter Newsletter Spring 1997 Issue

or go to this article, in which left-handed signing is mentioned and

How Is The SignWriter Newsletter Prepared?

If you do not have access to the web, write to me privately and I will be
happy to send you this newsletter snail mail.

How do we know that it is a left-handed signer? There are several clues...

1. The base hands switch
2. The fingerspelling is clearly left-handed
3. The contact on the head is on the left side of the head
4. Most of the movement arrows have clear arrowheads which mean left-handed

When a person is fluent in reading SignWriting it doesn't matter. Reading
left-handed SignWriting or right-handed SignWriting is equally as easy. It
is all a matter of fluency.

That is the same as having a direct conversation with someone in a signed
language - if you are skilled, it doesn't matter if the signer is
left-handed or right-handed - you still understand each other.

Of course writing is another story, and we can discuss that further. I am
preparing a discussion on typing fingerspelling, and your message above
brings that up - so I will tie into that later :-)

Thanks for the interesting message, Harry!

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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