Date: Sat Jun 17, 2000 10:58
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: Irish Blessing "peace"
Hello Vallerie and listmembers ,
First of all - your last four emails were different concerning the
appearance. Written with text - editor - Do you want to experiment ... ? I
preferred the other kind of message ;-) - Just curious.
Valerie wrote :
"Teaching people American Sign Language, and teaching them
SignWriting, are two different things."
I agree !
Valerie continues :
"SignWriting does not teach language. It is a way to read and write
Well - Iīm not sure about that !?? Of course - in the first place I would
like to learn how to write and how to read movements ! Ok - but what is
the connection ? What do linguists think about the interdependence of a
writing system and the comunicated (spoken / signed) system ? SW is not a
Sign Language ! I have no difficulties with that ----
But - and that is our daily experience - using SW for writing / expressing
our signed comunication we inform each other about the meaning of these
movements. And SW offers a platform to discuss, preserve and document the
performance of the movements.
The knowledge and competence in a special SL is a tremendous support to read
"movement-instructions" that mirror the expressed SL. Especially if the
author writes to an "informed reader" he hasnīt to worry too much about his
misspellings ( of the movements) because the reader can and will figure out,
what has been on the authors mind.
When I noticed this in the field of SW I was pretty excited ! ;-)
I agree - we donīt teach language . But we deal with language as long as we
write down the movements that are connected with special ideas - - as it
is as long as we write down the movements in SL.
For the first time my students get the chance to compare the different
structures of written German and written DGS.
Transcribing the videotaped movements - my students perform in the
classroom - while they are comunicating - I learn a lot obout there way of
using DGS-structures. It would be so fruitfull for linguists to collect data
during the lessons over a long period of time in order to analyze the
development of SL under these conditions.
SW does not teach language ? OK - but it is so helpfull to document the
signs we agreed upon - SW helps to inform about the "elements" that are used
in our comunity to name persons, things, animals, activities, feelings ....to
organize our thoughts, to learn mathematics (first grade) ;-) ...
Looking at the dictionaries of Nicaragua, America, Norway , Brazil I learn a
lot about the way they sign to each other. What about the list " How to
spell : father "
Right now Iīm so excited to watch a young woman learning Sign Language from
the very beginning. After only one week !!!!!! she is able to read the
first "movement - descritpions " signed sentences . She is able to learn
vocabularies -She is doing so well with the help of SW - you wouldnīt
believe ! A girl in my class starts to learn reading at the age of 10
after she understood these "written movement instructions" expressing DGS
signs . I whished I had had the chance a few years ago instead of writing
my fingers to the bones in order to describe the movement for a sign in
written German ! SW can be such a tremendous help for both groups of
learners - the Deaf in order to learn the spoken language, the hearing in
order to learn the SL.
But it is neccessary to be able to reduce the chances of misinterpretations.
Therefore I think it is necessary to be able to understand this m o v e m
e n t - w r i t i n g - system. Sign Languages are based on movement,
facial expressions and parameters that can be expressed pretty detailed in
SW. (At least so far that it is a tool for every day writing !! Not
tooooooo detailed if the reader is wellinformed - but with the potential to
give exact instructions for the reader who isnīt familiar with the language.
Writing more and more acceptable DGS - phrases we get more and more familiar
with this SL. Asking my pupils to translate DGS documents written in SW -
they get the chance to realize that they have to understand the idea, the
meaning of these "movement - instructions" , that they have to learn the
words and grammatical structures of German in order to translate the content
from one language (DGS) to the other language German.
"So at least, when you receive a message from me, just know that I am
not teaching ASL or any signed language..."
You couldnīt believe that I thought differently about that. We discussed
this point several times -
I am just teaching the equivalent to the International Phonetic
Alphabet, but for writing movement instead.
Well - hmm - being able to read SW there is a great chance to understand
many so called "transparent signs "
of foreign Sign Languages and in fact - I love to look at SW dictionaries
and love to browse for "movement - descriptions " that evoke special
When I found these beautiful SW-phrases from Charles in my mailbox - I was
very happy to look very carefully at the signs. I simply tried to move my
hands according these "movement - descriptions" . The reason that I got so
involved with it is that I want to learn - -- "to read and write
Mistakes are our friends. As long as I can find out that I misinterpreted a
movement - instruction - Iīm happy to proceed in my learning process.
Thank you so much for your support !