|SignWriting List Forum|
Valerie Sutton |
Date: Wed Jan 26, 2000 3:02 pm
Subject: Re: Is SignWriting like Chinese?
>Now, back to what they meant to say, not what they said. Is SW like
>Chinese characters? Valerie, your answer is essentially accurate.
>Mandarin, unlike most writing systems, is "logographic", i.e. what is
>written is not sounds (phonemes) but ideas, concepts, meanings. True, there
>is a phonetic component to many Chinese characters, but it is not a phonetic
>writing system, like SW is.
> I guess the short answer is: "No, SW is not like Chinese characters."
>It's probably more accurate to say: "SW is like written Spanish" (which is
>the most phonetic language I can think of off hand -- mmmmm, maybe I should
>have chosen Swahili!).
> OK, that's my three yuan's worth.
> - Wayne Smith
January 26, 2000
Thank you for this clarification, Wayne. I really appreciate it. I am
happy you responded because I know you know better than most how to
explain this to people.
Normally I don't worry about comparisons to SignWriting, but in this
case this was a reporter who asked me if SignWriting was like
Chinese....so when it comes to explaining these differences to the
press, I wanted to know what I am talking about. Kind of funny, isn't
it? I never had any interest in other writing systems, but since
SignWriting is continually being compared to other systems, I have no
choice but to learn a little bit about them too.
Just so you all know, SignWriting has nothing to do with other
writing systems - It just is as it is. I became inspired and it came
naturally from there, and it is not based on work that was done
The only true influence I had was from the dance notation system
invented by Friedrich Albert Zorn. I will be placing some of his
writing on the web later..it is a bunch of adorable stick figures
running around on a five-lined music staff. Once I saw Zorn's writing
at around age 15, I became totally caught up with the idea and spent
hours and hours writing dance steps with stick figures...and slowly
the writing system started that way, and then took years to evolve to
where it is today. A 25 year process so far...not based on any spoken
language writing system ;-)
So I have saved your response, Wayne, and next time I speak with the
reporter I will refer to it, if I need to...
Many thanks once again -
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