forum SignWriting List Forum
  Message 588  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index
From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Mon Nov 16, 1998  12:51 am
Subject:  SW vs. Glosses

On November 15, 1998 Charles Butler wrote:
When I see the sentence "me interest go store. You me go go question"
in makes my blood boil. It is neither Standard English, nor Ebonic
English, both of which are current spoken languages, it is Sign Gloss,
which is neither ASL nor English, but an English representation of Sign.
Even Stokoe is not intuitive, one must know ASL already, and very
thoroughly, in order to read it, and then one must study to know it.

Sign Writing is intuitive enough to teach the basics in an afternoon,
the entire system in a week of night classes, and have people writing
their own language in actual hand motions and grammar from the second
minute. Reading the language one picks up the grammar, writing it
enforces the pattern. I think it's a win-win situation.

Hi Charles and Everyone -
Thank you for your comment above. I am glad you brought up glosses - People
oftentimes do not understand the difference between glosses and
SignWriting. So it is a good subject to discuss, because there are so many
sides to the issue.

My contribution to the topic this evening are excerpts from an article that
is on our web site:

What is the difference between

This article is posted on the SignWriting Web Site at:

SignWriting is useful in recording elements of signed languages that cannot
be explained in words. For example, classifiers are impossible to record
with an equivalent word in English, because there are no words that
describe what classifiers describe! That is why Salk Institute is using
SignWriting to record classifiers.

English gloss systems place English words in the grammar and syntax of
signed languages. These gloss systems developed mainly because SignWriting
did not exist at the time. Researchers and teachers had no choice but to
try in some way, to show the differences in ASL, versus English.

English glosses can be confusing and inaccurate. Why? Let us take the sign
for HELP. In the SignWriting ASL Dictionary, there are 34 conjugations, or
variations, of the verb HELP. Some of the entries are "to help", "I help
you", "You help me", "They help each other", "They help us continuously",
and so forth. Some of these variations involve torso and shoulder movement,
and facial expressions. All of them involve varying degrees of depth. All
this can be recorded with SignWriting, but not with English glosses.

Written English uses abstract symbols to record sound. SignWriting writes a
visual language in a visual way. It is directly connected to what you see
when you sign, so it is easily learned by children. Children have enough
problems learning to read and write English correctly. English gloss
systems can confuse the picture by trying to explain one language with the
other. With SignWriting for ASL, and English for English, the two languages
are whole and pure. It is our experience that children learn to read
English better when they have both languages written on paper correctly.

Please feel free to write with questions -

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

  Message 588  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index