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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Mon Jan 10, 2000  5:10 am
Subject:  Writing Transitions Between Signs

>So there are clear differences between compound signs and
>phrases--blackbird, whitehouse, applesauce, appletree. English only gives
>us three choices--two words, one word, or hyphen--but Signwriting should
>allow us to record the exact pronunciation. If the word is not pronounced
>the same as it is when by itself, then we are seeing this compounding
>process, and should be able to record the difference in pronunciation, if
>we want to. It seems like using hyphens is just choosing convenience of
>notation over strict accuracy. (I don't delude myself that this is easy in
>either case)
>Joe Martin, Plain Old Ordinary Student
>Top Left Corner USA

January 9, 2000

Dear SW List -
I just wanted to comment on Joe's message about compounds, written before
the holidays. Thanks Joe, for this message, and yes you are right that SW
can write the difference in an individual's style of signing, a "difference
in pronunciation", as you say. Obviously standardized "sign spellings" will
emerge in time, but we can record the different styles of signing if we
want to.

When I first started writing signs from a videotape at the Unversity of
Copenhagen back in 1974...The video was of hearing person's gestures and
Deaf gestures being compared for a research project and I was notating all
the movements, both the hearing people and the Deaf people. I had no idea
what anything meant...and of course that was not the point...what the
movements meant had nothing to do with it...the researchers just wanted the
movement differences recorded, which I did for them and there were very
clear differences between the hearing and the Deaf.

I bring this up because I had an interesting experience in the
beginning...I started writing the transitions between the signs or
gestures, and did not differentiate between the beginning or ending of a
sign, but instead wrote the steady flow so the signs blended into a
"movement writing document". Years later someone asked me how I knew when a
sign begins and when it ends...and I would tell them this story and explain
that as I viewed more and more signed languages it became natural to know
where signs started and finished.

One of the reasons I am convinced that Lucinda and Meriam and other Deaf
people are correct, that writing down the page is essential to writing good
space location, is that when we used to write the signs from left to right,
the same "movement transitional flow" that I just talked about, was harder
to see...the vertical writing enhances the flowing quality of sign to sign
to sign, and encourages using no hyphens, which would stop the flowing
feeling. But right now, SignWriter 4.3 in MS-DOS does not type down in
columns, so James and others in Nicaragua had no choice but to type left to
right, and thus the hypens felt better writing in that direction, than they
will when one writes down...So I suspect as we get better software, and we
all start the process of learning to type vertically, that some of these
issues will disappear and improve -

Sorry to be so long winded!!

Val ;-)

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