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From:  Stefan Woehrmann2
Date:  Mon Mar 26, 2001  9:22 pm
Subject:  Re: German name sign for Ilker...inventing signs and SW documentation

Valerie wrote :

" And actually, although Movement Writing is neutral and not
"language-specific", SignWriting does become "tied to one Sign
Language culture" sometimes, since certain writing norms evolve
within cultures. A good example of that is the name sign for your
Deaf student Ilker. Although the photo showed one sign, your
classroom had apparently started writing another sign, to represent the photo didn't match the writing.

I would love to discuss this point.

The developmental stages were :

a) new students joined our group - they have had no name signs and couldn't
refer to each other.

b) Irina looked at Ilker with his very short hair and the CI device
attached to his head. She invented his name sign the way Ilker demonstrates
it on the attached photo !!

c) I tried to write a SW - symbol that goes along with this "name sign" -
the one Irina sugested months ago.
(Today I realized that Irina voted for the right side though the CI is
placed on Ilkers left side of the back of the head!! It hasn been a
problem for us up to now !)

d) All of us are familiar with it and don hesitate to read it the way
Ilker performs it.

e) When I happened to take the new photo series for my homepage - the name
signs were already written months ago.

I asked the students to perform their name signs when I took the foto of

So what we see in Ilkers relaxed performance of his name sign is an
interesting individual variation that doesn happen if I ask him to read
and sign accurately. In the same moment I learned a very interesting thing .

In fact - the original "sign" angle hand contacts the back of the head isn
performed that accurately during the day. It seems as if it is somehow
against a natural signing to move the hand that much behind the head - so
the signer in their daily routine changed the sign - in direction of the
temple !! (At least some of them !)
I remember the excellent report from Ingvild Roald regarding "inventing"
new signs. We were in need to find a name as quickly as possible in order to
communicate more accurately - who is who - who did what , who is where ...

What I learned from your response is that it can be wise to write the signs
we agree upon as kind of "labour-sign" If the experience shows that it works
fine - that people accept the sign it should be "accepted " then it can be
saved for the future generations ( ha !)

We are in need to find kind of guidelines how to perform all the new signs
that come along every day. SW is here such a tremendous help - but I learned
now - it shouldn't become a "bible" - Once a sign is written, is documented
there has to be the chance to look carefully at the competent signers - do
they change the sign, what are the variations depending on the circumstances

During our wonderfull seminar at Zurich I had a great chance to discuss with
Dr Penny Boyes Braem some of these issues .

Isn it great - just a small suggestion and such an interesting learning

Thank you so much for that !

Stefan ;-)

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