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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Jun 30, 2000  3:04 pm
Subject:  Re: Peace sign

At 4:19 AM -0700 6/30/00, Joe Martin wrote:
> I felt this is interesting. Reading this symbol/spelling, there is no
>indication that the right hand would turn back over again so that both
>palms faced the floor. And Valerie's explanation confirms that we are
>reading it right--that doesn't happen, and the hands end one palm up, one
>palm down.

> One of the rules of ASL phonology says that if both hands in a sign
>move, then they have to be doing the same thing. In my case, that seems
>to have something to do with it, but Stefan doesn't know ASL. Sooo...
>does German sign Language have that same phonological rule?

> If not, what goes on? We are both wanting to pronounce it differently
>from the way we both saw it spelled. Yikes!

SignWriting List
June 30, 2000

Dear SW List members, and of course Joe, Stefan and Charles (who
wrote the sign for Peace being discussed here):

I will tell you my feelings on this:

1. My reading was correct with the information I was given. I did not
assume any other information, because as a movement notator I have
trained myself not to "guess" at what the writer "might have meant".

2. Charles chose not to give us all the information on purpose. He
wasn't choosing exact pronunciation..He wasn't choosing phonetic
writing. That is fine. That is his choice. He also risks people
mis-reading his signs, but he has the freedom to do that and we
should not impose our phonetic standards on all writers.

3. There was a real "movement-writing" mistake in Charles' writing -
the rotation symbol was rotating the wrong direction. It follows the
pattern of the thumbs, and it needed to be flopped. That has nothing
to do with guessing or with has to do with physical
reality - it is physically impossible to do what Charles wrote. Just
a simple flop of the symbol corrected that, and I found that movement
writing error and corrected it in my version.

4. So on one hand there are rules to writing the symbols correctly so
we can physically reproduce what is written, but there is also
flexibility to choose how much detail you wish to write. We have to
find a balance....

5. Of course there is a good reason why Joe and Stefan "guessed the
same". Although German and American Sign Language are truly different
and distinct languages, there are also some similarities between
western signed languages, just as there are similarities between
Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, or similarities between Spanish,
Italian and that is not surprising to me at all.

Val ;-)


Valerie Sutton


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