forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  James Womack
Date:  Tue Mar 14, 2000  12:46 am
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

Joe Martin wrote:
> Dear, Dear, Cecelia; I have just flunked a final exam here, so I'm
> cranky. But I will try to explain this, using very simple words,
> that even your teeny-weeny little brain can understand. :-)

> What I keep saying is this: "Signwriting can be English."

You can "can" anything, but that doesn't keep it from spoiling.

> Now, read (very slowly) and try to understand:

> 1. SW can write anything that is signed.

In theory.

> 2. The English language can be represented by signs.

Not so, English is an aural/oral language and represented
by symbols that approximate the phonetics of the language.
Whereas sign writing is representative of the iconic and
visual aspects of an optical/manual language. The two
representations could get married, but they'd divorce or
annul themariage shortly due to incompatbility--or
irrecounciable differences.

> 3. SW can write this "signed English."

This you can "can." Theproblem is, Signed English is not
English. While written English represents spoken English up
to a point, Signed Engoish does not. signed English is an
artificial hybrid that basically takes ASL, tacks on English
prefixes and suffixes and syntax and claims to English. I
any other language this way, you'd be laughed off the planet
by linguists and thenative users of that language. Thefact this
foisted off on ASl doesn't make it anymore valid than if you did
it to
some other language.

> Now, You say that "Signed English is not English."

She's right.

> This statement is, to put it as politely as I can, STUPID!

Stupid is as stupid does.

> You also gave us an English sentence, namely:

> c) My father's name is Joe.

> This sentence can be signed. It cannot be signed using ASL, for a number
> of reasons. One is that the copula /is/ does not exist in ASL;

Yes it does. It's built into the facial expression that goes with
the sign.
My father (t) ---- this sections with the raised eye brows
signs for verification
that the receiving party understands.

(ix) name Joe he ------ the pointing is accompanied by a head
nod that indicates
affirmation, assertion, and present tense all in one.

> Another is
> that the plural suffix <'s> likewise does not exist in ASL.

The beauty of lingual diversity is that what is said in one
language can
often be said in another language despite uniqueness (so-called
missing parts)
among them.

> In order to
> sign this English sentence, we have to create two new signs for these
> items. This has been done, and these signs are pretty well-known.

In other words you're using canned language which is not the
natural state
of item in question? Jury-rigging, rather. Don't mind me, I'm
just being a
snit here.

> By signing these words in the given order, inserting the made-up signs in the
> appropriate slots, we can sign this English sentence. We will have a
> signed, English, sentence. This signed, English, sentence can be written
> in SW. We will then have written a signed, English sentence in SW. Ergo,
> my point, which was that SW can be English.

No. SW can be used represent that comprise SE. However, because
it is designed to be representative of signed languages (i.e.
evolved communication tool) and since SE is not a language, SW
cannot BE
SE. As a matter of fact, SW is not ASL either, it is a graphical
of a signed language. Just as the English alphabet usage is a
graphical represntation
of spoken English and not the language itself. You see, there's a
difference in
representing and BEING, there really is.

(\__/) .~ ~.))
/O O ./ .' Everytime we think we have managed to
{O__, \ { make ends meet, somebody moves the lines.
/ . . )
|-| '-' \
( _( )_.'

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