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From:  Charles Butler
Date:  Sun Mar 12, 2000  6:45 pm
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

Gotta respond to this one....

> True up to a point. However, "fingerspelling is not signing,"

to a point, James, however, "fingerspelling" though static is still using
the shapes of the human hand, a portion of signing, to represent a real
meaning, an english letter reduced to a handshape (or two hands if British
fingerspelling). Fingerspelling is not ASL, that I will give you, but to
say that Fingerspelling is not signing, that simply is not true.

> therefore its representation in SW is not SW.

Hold it, Sutton Movement Writing writes the body in motion or static, with
all body parts (faces, etc) according to the choice of the writer. Whether
you say that a handshape (fist) has no meaning "of itself" is true of ASL,
but by itself, with a specific orientation, is the English letter "S"
rendered into a human handshape, by common agreement that a closed fist is
the letter "S" in Fingerspelling.

Sign Writing is the writing of whatever portion of a body in motion or
static is necessary for meaning. Fingerspelling IS Sign Writing in THAT
sense. Sign Writing is NOT ASL, it is a graphical representation of a
particular reduced form of the human body and facial expressions plus other
diacritical marks for motion, speed, and contact. However the minimal "S"
is still an "S" if fingerspelled for English, and that is Signed Written

> Fingerspelling is the representation of single letters in which
> finger (not hand) motion and shape is essential but hand position is

Sign Writing writes what IS, not what we would wish it. Sign Written
Fingerspelling is an adaptation, just as Sign Written ASL is an adaptation.
Fingerspelling assumes a static position, Dance Writing assumes a full body
in motion, both are Sign Writing.

> > One may write English, one may write it using Roman letters,
> > letters, Hindi sanskrit letters, korean letters, any way you want.
> True. Now who would it make sense to? How beneficial would it be?

Multilingual street signs, I live in Takoma Park Maryland and I ran across
one sign for a day care center written in 7 languages and 5 alphabets. Day
Care Center was written in Korean, Amharic, and Chinese, as well as English,
Haitian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. Sometimes the words were translated,
sometimes their sounds were duplicated. It entirely depended on the
situation. Often Chinese, for example, simply translates sound for sound,
not meaning for meaning.
Yiddish is German written in Hebrew Letters. An entire culture has been
catalogued using this system. People make choices based on culture as to
which alphabetic writing system they choose. I can write English fairly
well using Hebrew characters. Romanian exists written in either Roman or
Cyrillic alphabets. Don't give me "the alphabet makes the language". It
simply isn't true.

Hindi and Urdu are the same language. Hindi uses Sanskrit, Urdu uses Arabic
notation, same language, different religious and political choices.

I hope this is enough examples for my point to get across. The users of
Sign Writing determine its usage. To declare that Sign Writing is only for
the writing of Signed Languages that have no hearing equivalent is begging
the question. Sign Writing writes body/hand/facial expresssion in any way
that the WRITER determines, not some other person saying "this is right,
that is WRONG".

Charles Butler

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