forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Ronald Zapien
Date:  Tue Mar 21, 2000  4:20 pm
Subject:  Re: SignWriting as a gateway?

Charles' points here are correct. Just to add spice to the mix, Ladino is
Spanish written with Hebrew letters and is a mix between Spanish and also
Hebrew. This language is still used by Sephardic Jews today as Yiddish is used
by Ashkenazic Jews. Both these languages originated because the people involved
were highly literate. They simply were not literate in the alphabet of the
lands they sojourned in. But both target languages were sound based, so the
resultant languages could occur. The challenge between ASL and English is that
they don't share a modality in the same way as Charles' examples. That is
probably the best argument for those of you not in Charles' court (sorry
Charles! ;}) However, He is correct that a language is not necessarily
dependent on writing style. If it were, there would not be as many
transliteration systems as there are. Forgive me if this doesnt' make too much
sense. I'm only on my first cup of coffee. Cheryl

Charles Butler wrote:

> 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
> English..
> > Fingerspelling is the representation of single letters in which
> > finger (not hand) motion and shape is essential but hand position is
> static."
> 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,
> fingerspelled
> > > 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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