Date: Wed Mar 22, 2000 12:08
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: How to Transcribe Videos in SW, Part 1
On 3/9/00, Stefan Woehrmann wrote:
>Itīs true that I have great difficulties to write facial expressions
>correctly. Often I thought about the idea to have the opportunity to
>compare my writing with the creations of somebody else. Must be fun
>to look at the video on and on in again in order to sharpen my
>ability for exact watching. There is another point. With SW 4.3
>there are so many possibilities for facial expressions - but on my
>videos or in life situation I realize a lack of ability to define
>the different tensions, frowns, eye-options ....
March 21, 2000
Yes, that can be a problem - deciding which facial expressions are
important enough to write. Plus it is hard to see yourself when you
sign...most people don't realize the facial expressions they make
while they sign.
Actually the facial expressions available in SignWriter 4.3 are a
minimal set of symbols - the entire writing system has more...
Before we start the transcribing...let me give you a little
"exercise" in "noticing" facial expressions.
1. When you are in conversation with another signer, start focusing
more on the signer's face. Observe other people and the facial
expressions they make when they sign.
2. Then think about why those facial expressions exist to begin
with?...They are there for a reason. Most of the time, the face DOES
3. A classic example is the sign for "bitter" or "sour"... In most
signed languages, the sign includes a facial expression that shows a
look of disgust or distaste, while the sign is produced. The sign
would be entered with the facial expression in the dictionary,
because without that facial expression, it just wouldn't mean
4. In other cases, the same sign can change facial expressions
depending upon what is being communicated. For example, the sign for
"carrying some books" would have an "exhausted face" if the books are
really heavy...and so forth.
5. In American Sign Language, sentences oftentimes start with the
eyebrows up...called a Topic Marker. Why is this? Because the topic
or subject of the sentence is established at the beginning of the
sentence, and it is the eyebrows that establish it, or "mark" it. See
Writing ASL Grammar
Lesson 1: Topic Markers
So even though you are writing German Sign Language, and soon we will
be writing Japanese Sign Language, we can still look at the first
facial expression in a sentence, to determine what the eyebrows are
It will be fun to find out!
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