SignWriting List Forum
Date: Thu Nov 8, 2001 7:37
Steve and Dianne Parkhurst
Subject: Spain and Germany
As you may have gathered from a previous message or two, my wife Dianne and
I were able to visit Stefan and his family in Germany a few days ago. We
were in southern Germany for a conference, so on the weekend we had a brief
window of time to travel up north to see Stefan. Germany is gorgeous this
time of year with the leaves turning color and lots of green fields (our
part of Spain is rather brown most of the year). We discovered something
called a "Happy Weekender Pass" that allowed all three of us (our
three-year-old son was also with us) to travel anywhere in Germany on local
trains for only about $20. Of course to get there we had to change trains 5
or 6 times, but it worked.
We spent all Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning talking about SW. For
those who are wondering, yes, Stefan has as much endless energy and
enthusiasm in person as he seems to have in his e-mails. We swapped a lot of
files and he showed me how he makes all those wonderful animations. One
added bonus was getting to see the second half of the BBC presentation on
Bluefields while staying in the hotel there (it was even in English!).
Stefan and I spent quite a bit of time discussing what needs to be written
in a text. As you may have noticed in his stories he includes a lot of
facial expressions--Valerie does it as well. We, on the other hand, tend to
leave off the facial expression from most of the signs. Here in Europe
signers do a lot more mouthing the words than in America--and perhaps
because of the long historical oralistic methods of Deaf education, Germany
seems to have more mouthing than Spain. So the question is, how much is
necessary to write?
Stefan and I made the distinction between "informed" and "uninformed"
readers. Here in Spain we primarily teach Deaf adults who are native
signers. We assume that they know what they are signing and will
automatically fill in the appropriate facial expressions. Stefan is using SW
with children who do not necessarily know the SL. For us it is important to
be able to read fluently with speed. The fewer symbols you have, the faster
you can read. Of course there has to be a balance; if you leave out too
much, it's hard to understand the text; if you put in too many details, it
slows you down and you lose the flow and the context. We do put in any
facial expressions that are grammatical: biting the lip ("F") or teeth bared
as an intensifier; or eyebrows as intensifier or topic, etc.
Also, as you may know, we use brackets here to represent when whole phrases
use the same facial expression. So rather than have to read a head shaking
over every sign in the whole phrase, we put a beginning bracket with the
head shaking and then a close bracket at the end. Cognitively this is a bit
more accurate anyway--negation is often an element of the phrase, not the
individual sign. I'll attach here part of a text with some examples in
I was really impressed with Stefan's system of writing mouth movements.
Again this is only useful for certain audiences. Deaf adults don't need (or
want) all that detail on how to vocalize the words, but Stefan showed me how
well it works with his kids in the school. Different methods apply to
Anyway, we had a great time talking about these things. I am really glad we
were able to get together, even if it was for just a short time.
Have a super day!
sample of brackets text.doc