Date: Tue Jan 25, 2000 2:04
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Is SignWriting like the IPA?
January 25, 2000
Dear SignWriting List -
Below is another question I have received - I hope you will give me
feedback. Is what I said below correct about the IPA?
Thanks for your help - Val ;-)
QUESTION: Is SignWriting like the International Phonetic Alphabet (the IPA)?
ANSWER: Yes. Although SignWriting records movement instead of sounds,
it can be compared to the IPA. It is like an "International Phonetic
Alphabet" for writing all movement.
About the IPA: The International Phonetic Alphabet (the IPA) is a set
of symbols that writes sounds found in all spoken languages. The IPA
symbols collapse different aspects of the production of a sound into
a single symbol (such as the placement of the tongue in the mouth,
type of air release from the mouth, and whether the vocal cords are
vibrating or not). The IPA also has "diacritics" that can be written
next to the alphabet symbols to show if the sound is nasalized (air
exiting the nose), aspirated (produced with a puff of air) and so
My understanding is that the IPA can be written in great detail, or
in lesser detail. SignWriting can also be BOTH phonetic or phonemic,
depending on how the writer chooses to use it.
There are two differences, I believe.
First, the IPA is not used as a daily writing system for the spoken
languages of the world. For example, this email message is not
written in the IPA. It is written in the Roman Alphabet. The IPA
seems to be used more for research and giving extra detail to
pronunciation of words in dictionaries. So SignWriting is different
in that it is used as a daily writing system as well as a research
Second.....Does the IPA write music sounds...or is it only for
writing sounds connected to spoken languages?
SignWriting is inter-connected with DanceWriting, and can blend with
DanceWriting, when writing mime or gestures outside of signed
languages. In that sense, the entire Sutton Movement Writing system
is used for both "movement-based art", and "movement-based
language"....so there is a broader range of applications available to
SignWriting users, than there are to users of the International
Phonetic Alphabet (I think!). smile...
Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA