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From:  Mark Penner
Date:  Wed Dec 20, 2000  4:06 am
Subject:  Transcription project

At 15:09 00/12/14 -0500, Stefan wrote:

> nice to hear from you again. How is it going - did you translate any
> some mor signs from the japanese bible project ?
> I $B%( (Jm sorry for you (and me ) that we didn $B%( (Jt continue - sooo
much to do.

I've gotten a couple of sentences done. The main thing that I've gleaned
from our transcription attempt is that though it is possible to write
exactly what a Deaf signer is signing, it is very difficult without knowing
the language. This is because signs morph differently depending on which
sign follows. That is, they change shape as they flow from one sign to the
next, creating and incredible variety of hand and face forms. There is
really no need to write all the minute variations that occur. If you don't
know the Sign Language you're writing, you end up with all kinds of
unnecessary material, and though you might be writing exactly what the
signer signed, its very difficult to read.

I think it would be different if our signer were doing poetry or
storytelling, but a lot of this tape is narrative style, and gets pretty
close to how Deaf people actually converse. Since I know the sign, I ended
up writing what I knew he was signing rather than what his hands and face
actually did. I didn't try to do this, but my knowledge of JSL actually
influenced what I saw. When I looked at the transcription from the rest of
our group and went back to the video on slow motion, I realized that I had
not written what he actually did with his hands. I imagine that the reverse
will happen once Deaf people are fluent at reading SW--that they will not
sign exactly what is written, but will sign how it is really supposed to be
as sign flow naturally from one to another.

Anyway, I'm game to try some more transcription if anyone else is up to it.


Mark Penner
Tokyo, Japan

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