forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Bonnie Collins
Date:  Thu Apr 27, 2000  11:40 am
Subject:  Introduction

I need to introduce myself, I did this recently but it was during the time when
messages were going astray. I did not post another introduction as I thought my
earlier messages would re-appear but as it hasn't ...

I first started learning ASL in 1986 when a friend asked me to go with her to
learn sign language through an evening adult education course. After the first
semester she dropped the course and I continued. I thought sign language was
such a fascinating language. During this time I was studying Immunology and
Microbiology at university but suddenly wanted to switch to linguistics and
study ASL. Two things prevented me from doing this, first I could not find a
linguistics department that included signed languages as an area of study.
Secondly, I had already invested six years in my current studies and I just
could not abandon the path I was on.

Since that time I continued to learn ASL on my own through a lot of self-study,
any courses I could find and practiced signing skills on very patient and
helpful people at Deaf clubs. Recently I found two courses offered over the
internet which are really helping to further my knowledge of the structure of

My original interest in Sign Writing was purely for my own benefit as it was a
means for me to record signs on paper for later review. I was just using paper
and pencil to write in Sign Writing. If there was something I did not know how
to write I would just go to the web site and look up instructions on how to
capture what I wanted on paper. As my notes were for my own use I would just
pick up what I needed to know at the time.

It is only recently that I have started to really study the details of Sign
Writing as I was using Sign Writing as a tool to transcribe discourse for this
course I am taking now. Then I decided to write about Sign Writing as a means
for writing ASL for a Linguistics of ASL course. Consequently, I have learned a
lot about Sign Writing, as always, enough to know there is much I do not know.

Note for Val: I included a disclaimer in my paper indicating that I am still
learning Sign Writing and any deficiencies are first examined with regard to my
fluency (or lack thereof) with Sign Writing rather than the system itself. I
felt this was important as in my background reading in preparation for writing
this paper I encountered a few reports on Sign Writing that indicate
short-comings where none exist. My paper will have only a very small
circulation (the rest of the class) but I still don't want to be responsible
for contributing to the mis-information due to my lack of knowledge.
Bonnie Collins

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