forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Cheryl Zapien
Date:  Wed Oct 28, 1998  1:55 pm
Subject:  Re: Iconicity

Hi Valerie et al: Well, I wrote my first SW letter last night--probably broke
every rule in SW and ASL--but you have to start somewhere....*smile*. I
included a translation . From both a student and teaching perspective, ASL
written in ASL is of enormous value precisely because the student is not only
forced to decode the material, but as well, is repeatedly exposed to good
modeling of the language (at least in the case of your ASL pieces and those of
experienced ASL signers). Also, the younger signer is exposed to higher level
grammar than they might otherwise be exposed to because they can take the time
to decode and books are tremendously patient--they never become upset if it
takes you an hour to figure out a sentence. Human exposure and interaction
often results in "dumbed down" ASL because of the ability of the receiver.
Valerie, I'd like to recommend that you publish ASL grammar lessons much in the
same way as your SW texts for the catalogue--you know, in one book. I'd
recommend translations too, but on a separate page, so the reader is forced to
work a little. I've picked up a lot, even with my bare bones knowledge of SW,
by having the opportunity to actually read and take in ASL in a slow and
methodical manner.

The biggest questions new folks to ASL have are: sign order and which little
words do I leave out (almost all beginning classes tell students that we don't,
for example, use present tense of the verb to be and we don't use "the"--but in
practice, many other small words are either not used or not used as much or
are used differently (the word "which" comes to my mind)). Through the process
of reading, writing what you are reading(a great oppty. to practice SW), and
translating, answers to these questions become readily apparent. Read enough
and you have a fighting chance of picking up the patterns of the language and
making them your own--much in the same way that deaf kids need to see lots and
lots and lots of English in order to see its patterns.

Sorry I went on so long. This is just very exciting and I see all sorts of
possibilities. By the way, have you thought of making workbooks for the books
in the literacy project? They do this in school when teaching, for example,
English, French etc. The workbooks, of course, deal with comprehension and
also writing skills. Enough for now. Cheryl

Valerie Sutton wrote:

> >Karen van Hoek here, a linguist in Ann Arbor --
> >Judiciously-applied iconicity, such as the decision to use "stacking" of
> >symbols in Sign Writing, is probably a very important component in
> >designing a writing system that can actually be read. So we Sign Writing
> >supporters don't need to get defensive or embarrassed about iconicity;
> >it's a good design principle, and one that has stood the test of time for
> >English and every other written language.
> >
> >Karen van Hoek
> ________________________________
> October 27, 1998
> Hello Karen!
> Gosh it felt good to see your message this morning - I am glad to hear from
> you :-)
> I hope I remember this was many years ago...but I believe
> once you showed me some ASL poetry in SignWriting witten in visual patterns
> - the signs were written diagonally down the page and in circles? It was
> very beautiful I remember...another creative step towards "the visual".
> And I remember your support of the visual nature of SignWriting always gave
> me a feeling of strength. It was good to know that some linguists backed
> the idea, even back in the mid-1980's when "abstract was in". It took
> courage to work with SignWriting at that time.
> For the sake of the List members, I think I should explain that Karen and I
> know each other because we worked together for years. Karen was the
> "resident linguist" of our DAC from its inception, and continued to work
> with the DAC until just a few years ago. Karen left us a legacy of eight
> ASL Grammar Lessons. I prize them, and I consider them classics. George
> "Butch" Zein, who also worked with Karen at Salk Institute at the time,
> signed the lessons in ASL, and Karen wrote them in both ASL and English.
> We used to have DAC meetings at my home in the evenings. Karen and Butch
> would come over to my house, after work at Salk, and they would share their
> writing with was so exciting to see ASL described in ASL - to this
> day I just love to sit and read the ASL in those lessons.
> So I am happy to tell you, Karen, that on Monday I am posting your second
> ASL Grammar Lesson on the web. I will be placing the signs down in vertical
> columns, and writing a small foreword about the importance of writing
> vertically....I hope you will be pleased with it :-)
> Please keep in touch, and take good care -
> 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
512 Re: Iconicity Valerie Sutton Wed  10/28/1998

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