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From:  Cheryl Zapien
Date:  Tue Oct 27, 1998  3:39 pm
Subject:  Re: Frequently-Asked Questions

Valerie: When something is iconic, it looks like the thing being described. A
great example is the sign for cup and drink. They look like what they are and
are very easy to remember as a result. I believe the folks who were asking the
questions were probably wondering why the writing system was so much like the
actual signs and not more abstract. I've been told and have read that as
language advances over time it becomes more abstract and less iconic and it
becomes more simplified for ease of use. (Think, for example, of the
development of the sign for no from the original Loan sign #NO# or the changes
in the signs for sister and brother for example).

Perhaps at some future time SW will evolve into a more abstract form for
writing ease. This has certainly happened with other languages (Hebrew, I
believe, was at one time more iconic and over the centuries developed. The
script looks nothing like the block letters and is so different, that I find it
hard to memorize because it is so abstract. Hebrew, however, is millenia older
than SW and has different requirements because it is ultimately a spoken
language). To me, if SW were to become more abstract, it would probably need
to use the Chinese model since SW lends itself to a character language. Just a
thought. I'm no linguist. Perhaps I should leave such ponderings to such as
those. *smile* Take care all, Cheryl

Valerie Sutton wrote:

> October 26, 1998
> I receive lots of interesting questions about SignWriting. We have a
> Questions and Answers section on our web site, if you want to visit:
> Questions and Answers Directory
> Do you have questions you would like to ask about SignWriting?
> Feel free to ask by posting your questions to the SignWriting List, and you
> will get an answer! And I can then add your question to the questions and
> answers on the web.
> I have a question for all of you....
> I used to give lectures and workshops on SignWriting in the 1980's, and I
> received this question a lot:
> "Isn't SignWriting too iconic?"
> This question usually came up when linguists were present. And because I am
> a movement notator, and not a linguist, I knew that I didn't understand
> what the concern was...and I wanted to understand it.
> Obviously we are choosing to write visually. That is a choice I made from
> the beginning.
> So...what does the word "iconic" really mean in this context?
> Valerie :-)
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Valerie Sutton at the DAC
> Deaf Action Committee for SW
> SignWriting
> Center For Sutton Movement Writing
> an educational nonprofit organization
> Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  Replies Author Date
498 Iconicity (was Re: Frequently-Asked Questions) Karen A. Van Hoek Tue  10/27/1998
509 Re: Iconicity (was Re: Frequently-Asked Questions Angus B. Grieve-Smith Wed  10/28/1998
500 Re: Frequently-Asked Questions Judy Kegl Tue  10/27/1998
501 Re: Frequently-Asked Questions Charles Butler Tue  10/27/1998

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