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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue Jun 6, 2000  6:03 pm
Subject:  Re: Lessons In Sign Language Transcription

Lesson One:

Think Like A Scribe
Writing Movement, Not Meaning

If you are a signer, and you want to transcribe Sign Language videos,
then it helps to think like a movement notator, or a scribe, rather
than a signer.

I know this is hard. You cannot divorce yourself from what you
already know. But there are some techniques you can learn, and that
is the purpose of this course.

As you know, Sign Language interpreters are trained to repeat what
was said in Sign Language, without imposing their opinions on what is
being said. They are supposed to remain neutral, almost like a
machine that simply gives back what it received....without making any

A movement scribe plays that neutral role too. The scribe views the
movments on the video, without making linguistic judgements. What is
wrong or right is not the issue. The goal is to write what you see,
without imposing your opinion.

So to think like a movement scribe, use your eyes and brain like a
camera...Look at what you see, and record the movement position by
position, almost as an animator would capture movement frame by frame.

To adjust to this new idea, try writing stick figures as an exercise
to train your eye. Later you can drop the stick figures, when you
become skilled. See Figure 5 & 6.

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