forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Fernando Capovilla
Date:  Thu Oct 14, 1999  4:27 am
Subject:  yes we both drool with cognitive neuropsych, dear Joe! :) & writing vs drawing


Valerie wrote:

> You could argue, that in the movement-based languages, dance is a little
> like music - it communicates something but it definitely is not the same
> kind of language that signed languages are...and yet in our case, we can
> write both dance and signed languages with the same writing system...they
> are applied differently, but still dancers who do not know signs, but know
> DanceWriting can read we are more "unified" in our
> writing, than the world of sound-based languages are...

Dear Valerie! Yup! I think you're right again! :) Why I'm not surprised? :))
In addition to that, the writing strategy that underlies both DanceWriting and
SignWriting appears to have something in common
with the international alphabet (which may be used to establish phonological as
well as phonemic distinctions). Once you have
achieved proficiency in recognizing and producing correspondences between the
building blocks of sign morphology and those of
movement morphology, you can read and write whole complex units even those that
are meaningless to you (i.e., you are able to
read and write signs from unknown sign languages, even contrived ones). By the
same token, once you have achieved proficiency
in recognizing and producing correspondences between speech phonemes and
graphemes, you may read aloud and write down both
words and pseudowords, no matter to what natural or invented artificial language
they may belong. That is why, in addition to
being a practical way of writing signs for everyday use, SignWriting may be a
notably important research tool for linguistics,
as relevant for sign language as the international alphabet is for spoken
languages. :-)

> Assunto: drool
> Data: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 21:03:41 -0700
> De: Joe Martin
> > Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 18:39:20 -0300
> > From: Fernando Capovilla
> > Subject: Writing vs drawing
> >
> > for encoding). In Japan Hatta had demonstrated
> > that isolated Kanjis may be processed by the right hemisphere, but sometime
> > later, in China, Tzeng demonstrated beyond doubt
> > that left hemisphere fuctions are absolutely essential to permit reading
> strings
> > of Chinese characters. In Western science,
> > Gazzaniga and co-workers had already demonstrated that the right hemisphere
> > capable of reading, but only in an ideographic
> > way, that is, in a way not mediated by phonological recoding (which is an
> Don't *Do this to me. Give me some references. Please please please!
> [foot-stomps on floor]

Dear Joe, I really enjoyed your message. Thanks! :) Great fun!
Cognitive neuropsych is indeed fascinating! :)
Here you have some references:
Hatta, T. (1977). Recognition of Japanese Kanji in the left and right visual
fields. Neuropsychologia, 15, 685-688.
Hasuike, R., Tzeng, O. J. L., Hung, D. L., (1986). Script effects and cerebral
lateralization: the case of Chinese characters.
In J. Vaid (Ed.), Language processing in bilinguals: Psycholinguistic and
neuropsychological perspectives. Hillsdale, NJ,
Erlbaum Press.
Tzeng, O. J. L., Hung, D. L., Cotton, B., Wang, W. S. Y. (1979). Visual
lateralization effect in reading Chinese characters.
Nature, 282, 499-501.
Zaidel, E. (1981). Auditory language comprehension in the right hemisphere
following cerebral commissurotomy and
hemispherectomy: a comparison with child language and aphasia. In A. Caramazza,
& E. B. Zurif (Eds.). Language acquisition and
language breakdown: Parallels and divergencies. Baltimore, MD, Johns Hopkins
Press, 229-275.
Zaidel, E. (1981). Reading by the right hemisphere: A perspective from the
normal brain. In U. Kirk (Ed.), Neuropsychology of
language reading and spelling. New York, NY, Academic Press.
Zaidel, E., Peters, A. M. (1981). Phonological encoding and ideographic reading
by the disconnected right hemisphere: Two case
studies. Brain and Language, 14(12), 205-234.
(I have written more than 20 scientific papers on these issues, but I'm afraid
all of them are in that romantic language
called Portuguese...)

> I'm assuming that when kids see the signwriting symbols and reproduce the
> signs that they are doing a phonological analysis, (with or without
> semantic content). Which is intriguing cuz phonological awareness depends
> on reading ability. (for speech anyhow)

I have performed the first three intervention studies on phonological awareness
in Brazil, and I think I can answer to that
question. :-) Phonological awareness is a complex ability with a number of
levels. The most elementary ones (awareness of
words, syllables, rhyme, and onset or alliteration) do not depend at all from
reading ability, but rather seem to be
prerequisits to it. The most refined ones (phonemic awareness) do indeed depend
on a previous exposure to an alphabetic
writing system as well as on grapheme-phoneme correspondence instruction. When
kids see the SignWritten signs and reproduce
them, they may be performing different processes, depending on the interaction
between the text complexity and their previous
history with SignWriting and sign language. That is precisely what we are
getting ready to study in here. We have generated
the Brazilian Sign Language Dictionary (with illustrated sign morphology and
SignWriting side by side), and a multimedia
testing system with animated signs that presents both SignWriting and animated
signs from BraSL for pairing. We intend to
create different histories and assess what rules naive kids are capable of
generating and applying under different
circumstances. That's fun research! :-)

> "Ideographic reading" is like: III + IV = VII ?

Yes, but not only. Ideographic reading is reading that is not mediated by
phonological recoding. There's a cognitive system in
left hemisphere that is capable of performing reading in a phonological or a
lexical way (strategy). The phonological route
allows us to read aloud (pronounce) any word or non-word (a sequence of
characters that may be pronounced but that lacks
meaning), provided that the graphemes are combined in a plausible way (for the
reader's language). That is the route or
strategy that we use when we find new words, such as when we read a Medicin or
Pharmacology book, and it is the main strategy
that we use to increase our lexicon. But it works (that is, the pronounce is
recognized as correct and we reckon what we're
reading) only insofar as the text is regular from a grapheme-phoneme standpoint.
The lexical route allows us to read rapidly,
in a direct visual fashion. But it words only insofar as the text is familiar
(has high frequency in the idiom), and thus
pertains somehow to the reader's lexicon. In the intact brain, both routes are
always working in parallel, even though the
lexical one is faster. Even so, it is the phonological route that prevents us
from misreading words that are less familiar.
The important thing here is that when the left hemisphere reading system is
strongly damaged, reading is performed by the
right hemisphere (a very different system). That right hemisphere reading system
is affected by the concretude or imageability
of the word referent. That is why alexic people with anterior types of aphasia
tend to read content words (nouns, verbs)
better than they do function words (prepositions, connectives, etc), and they
tend to read concrete words (concrete nouns,
overt verbs) better than they do abstract ones (abstract nouns, covert verbs).
They are simply uncapable of reading non-words,
or of matching pictures on the basis of their corresponding spoken words (if
they have to evoke those words from their own
auditory lexicon), or of matching heterograph homophone words on the basis of
their written forms (cuz then they'd have to
evoke the auditory forms or images corresponding to these words, which they
simply can't!). And yet they can indeed match
pictures with their corresponding written words (and vice-versa) with great
succes, what proves that they can actually read!
But their reading is not mediated by the sounds of the words. It is a truly,
truly silent reading (because it is silent not
only to people around the reader, but to the very reader himself). Oops! Talking
about silence. I'd better go.

Fernando Capovilla, Plain Old Ordinary Scientist
Bottom Right Corner South America :-)

> ____________________________________
> Joe Martin, Plain Old Ordinary Student
> Top Left Corner USA

  Replies Author Date
1948 2 signs for Germany Valerie Sutton Fri  10/15/1999

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