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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Oct 8, 1999  3:19 pm
Subject:  Re: Writing vs drawing

>From Fri Oct 8 07:34:18 1999
From: "Karlin, Ben"
To: "'jerry'" , "'Sutton, Valerie'"
Subject: Re: Writing vs Drawing
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 09:36:00 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0

Jerry Spillman wrote:

> Could it just be that writing is a very special way of drawing
> which exudes personality, and even to some extent, being?

In a word, Nope. There is a reason I say so with such confidence even
though I have absolutely no qualification. When we are reading an
alphabetical language we perceive the words on either of two levels (I am
simplifying a great deal because that's how I think.) We see the word as a
discrete, meaningful whole and, if we chose to or are directed to, we see
the word also as a collection of lines, shapes, light and dark areas, etc.
Just because we CAN see words in this latter way doesn't preclude us from
also seeing them the former way.

Studies show that skilled readers pay less attention to the individual parts
of written words and perceive them primarily as unitary, meaningful shapes.
This is why type (which is regular) is efficiently read than handwriting
(which is irregular). That is why upper and lower case (with irregular
sizes/shapes which gives different words unique silohuettes) is more
efficiently read than all capital letters (which are all the same size/shape
and produce words of similar silohuettes). So, for example, in reading it
is more like to mistake "the" for "them" than it is to mistake for "they."
That descender on the lower-case Y gives the word a more different

In "Signs of Language" Klima and Bellugi talk about marked and unmarked
handshapes. This is the same kind of "silohuette" analysis. So those of us
who are neophyte SW readers still struggle with the individual aspects of SW
symbols and, like children practicing the shapes of the alphabet, "draw"
them. (I know I have heard first graders talk about "drawing an A.") More
sophisticated, fluent readers take in the symbols as unitary and wholes and
"write" them. As Fernando has pointed out, the way that the brain conceives
and uses the symbols (whether SW or words) is different.

Valerie, I get the digest and do not remember the address to post this to
the list. Can you do that for me, please? Thanks so much. Hope you are
well. Sure enough are busy!

Ben Karlin


Val :-)


Valerie Sutton

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