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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue Oct 27, 1998  2:58 am
Subject:  Re: SW Symbol Questions

On October 26, 1998 James Kegl wrote:
>Regarding the "smooth" line, in Nicaragua we don't use it anymore. That's
>a judgment call -- and I am not saying whether or not it was a good one,
>but I thought I'd let you all know anyway. We use the "slow" sign
>frequently, but were unable to differentiate when a sign was "smooth" as
>opposed to "slow", so we just call all the slows and smoothies "slow". We
>do distinguish between "slow/smooth" and "very slow" (by using the
>double-slow dynamic indicator. Also, we alway put the dynamic markers on
>the bottom, except for the tension dynamic marker which for us has two
>meanings depending upon its location. (For us, a tension marker on top of
>an arrow point indicates that the hand movement stops abruptly.)
>There are times when I wonder if we really need to use the symmetry marker
>(as opposed to the asymmetry markers) rather than assuming symmetry by
>default in the absence of the marker. Personally, I find the symmetry
>marker enhances the readability of the sign.
>We've made some other adaptations -- we think we've done some tweaking up,
>as suits our particular needs. Others might disagree --- but then my ego
>is made of pretty stern stuff.
>All in all, we are 99.9% faithful to Valerie's system. -- James Shepard-Kegl

Good Evening James -
Thank you for your nice comment...I feel very honored that you have used
SignWriting 99.9% - and I am sure we all can learn from the 1%!!

We may find that your additions or "tweaking" as you say, may benefit the
writing of ASL and other signed languages too - plus - we may have stumbled
upon some of the changes ourselves without knowing that you too had done
the same - That can happen....since we are all learning simultaneously :-)

I agree with your choice about the Slow and Smooth movement symbols. It is
very hard to differentiate between Smooth and Slow when writing signed
languages, so the Slow is enough to record the information you need. We
started doing that in ASL too.

The symbols for Smooth and Slow movements come from the general Movement
Writing system...the question much should they be applied to
writing signed languages? I was never sure of the answer to this I placed them in the SignWriting list of symbols to give
people a choice.

Smooth & Slow are used constantly when writing dance, ice skating and
gymnastics. As a movement notator, I use them all the time for other

But in writing ASL, I started to question the necessity for Smooth. It
seems that Slow is enough to get the point across. The only exception is if
you are writing a mime-sequence, almost like acting. Then you can have
"jerky movements done slowly" and "smooth movements done slowly", but
writing mime related to signed languages is not really writing ASL - it is
like a "sub-category" of symbols.

So in regards to Smooth I certainly agree with you - and your other points
are interesting and I look forward to more discussions about them.

Thanks for all your hard work and input -

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

  Replies Author Date
499 Re: Canadian Geography Inquiry Judy Kegl Tue  10/27/1998
508 Re: Iconicity Valerie Sutton Wed  10/28/1998

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