forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Judy Kegl
Date:  Wed Sep 23, 1998  12:42 pm
Subject:  Re: Advanced SignWriting Materials

I agree with Valerie that we all can produce our own materials in SW. It's
fun to do and a tremendous teaching/learning experience for students. In
my opinion, it is absolutely imperative that all writings be in excellent
ASL. This means using natively fluent signers in any production project.

In my experience doing this, I have found it necessary to formulate a few
writing devices, for example, a V-shaped eyebrow figure signals a response
to an interrogative. (I might not use this particular example in ASL. My
translations are in Nicaraguan Sign; but I hope you get my point.) In
english, we use devices all the time that do not appear in spoken language.
We call this punctuation. Anyway, at some point, we should compare notes
-- good ideas may catch on; bad ideas will be trashed.

Also, as you create stories in SW, your dictionary file will expand --
making it easier to write other stories as time goes on. Since people can
spell the same word in different ways, and still be correct, there will
come at some point a need to conventionalize the writing. But, this is
true in all written systems. In the end, Deaf students will adopt
shortcuts and SW will become more abstract than it is presently -- and this
is both natural and positive.

So, let's be a little AMBITIOUS, fellow Signwriters. Perhaps we can set up
regional groups and see who can produce the best version of some storybook
(Babar the Elephant is one of my favorites. Or, if you really want to get
serious, there's an illustrated children's adaptation of Moby Dick that I'd
like to see in SW. There are also some ASL video stories if you want to do
something already in Deaf culture. Well, the possibilities are endless.)

The point is that we have a lot of work ahead of us. But by producing
these materials, you become really, really good at SW. And, here is an
opportunity to give a really significant gift to the next generation of
students. You won't build a library in a day, or a year. But once
complete, it will last forever.

-- James Shepard-Kegl

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