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From:  Hope Hurlbut
Date:  Tue Dec 14, 1999  10:34 pm
Subject:  Re: Literacy in SW

Dear Valerie,

Thank you for all your helpful e-mails and attachments. I really
appreciate them. At the moment I am going through the ASL word list
that I got from a Sabahan Deaf who graduated from Gallaudet a couple
of years ago. I found that a lot of my transcriptions were "wrong"
when compared with your SW dictionary, not necessarily because I did
not transcribe them correctly (though there were quite a few in that
category), but because she has Malaysianized her ASL a bit. Having
come back a couple of years ago she found that the Malaysian Deaf
could no longer understand her properly, so she made a great effort to
switch back to Malaysian Sign Language (MSL or BIM as the Deaf call it
- Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia, literally meaning Language Sign Malaysia).
I am very grateful for the SW dictionary, (though I think I have found
a few typos).

The purpose for this e-mail is to comment on Stephan's e-mail about
how readily his students learned and benefitted from SW. As you know
I work for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), and it has long
been our policy to use the "mother tongue" (for spoken languages) to
teach people how to read and write. Quite a number of scientific
studies have been done by people outside of SIL proving that children
in school learn to read faster and better if they learn in their
mother tongue first. They realize then that reading has meaning. If
they are learning in a second language they have two hurdles to jump,
learn the second language and then learn to write in the second
language. It takes longer and is much more difficult. Some give up
in the attempt, because they never learn that those black marks on the
paper are supposed to have meaning. It is doubly so for a Deaf child
who has never heard a spoken language. I have heard it compared to us
going to school, and having to learn that the numbers 625 mean "cat"
and 318 mean "dog". Can you imagine what a heavy memory load that is
when a person has no help from the appearance of a word that there is
any reason for the series of letters? Every single word has to be
memorized in isolation. Kudos to all the Deaf who have managed to
master English with its abominable spelling system that baffles
hearing people let alone the Deaf. Languages that are spelled
phonetically at least have fewer letters to memorize!

Thanks again.
Hope Hurlbut

---------------------------- Forwarded with Changes ---------------------------
From: Hope Hurlbut at MLB
Date: 12/14/99 5:28PM
To: SignWriting List at INTERNET
Subject: Re:
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