forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Stefan Woehrmann2
Date:  Fri Nov 9, 2001  9:02 pm
Subject:  Re: Is SignWriting Necessary?

Hi Angus and Listmembers

I love to read your quote and printed it out -

I stopped to try to persuade anybody to try out with Geb ʰ denSchrift. If
people feel ok with their old way of learning SL or Spoken Language or with
their achievements as instructor or teacher with one of these - fine -

But - if they feel a growing discomfort that they themselves do have a hard
time to get forward in their SL- skills. That they miss an instrument to
compare more carefully different styles of signing. I f they would love to
create SL- databanks that are easy to handle. If they are inspired by the
wish to create learning materials for students at school to allow them to
start from a firm foundation -

hmm then they will look for other support-systems and if they are lucky -
they will get in touch with SW and all the wonderfull inspiring people on
the List !

This happened to me two years ago , when Penny Boyes Braem mentioned a
writing system for SL that is visual oriented.
As you can see from my homepage - I got infected (ha !!) from this SW-virus
and can not stop but write and learn and transcribe and print out and ..

And why ? Because all these other valuable tools (CD, videos ) to document
Sign Languages are not able to offer that support that I myself and my
students are looking for.

So if any of your informants or opponents express their doubts - that there
is a need for SW -

I would learn from him, that he is not in need to change he mind and method.
I am in contact with some people who are sceptic out of a mood of fear and
anger -
If - and I am confident - absolutly - that SW will become the most powerfull
instrument for SL - instructors and SL Learners - but as well for teachers
who are interested in bilingual teching methods

and if more and more deaf students and SL learners ask for written
documents - well then it will lead to the consequence that the successfull
teacher and instructor will have to learn again .

As easy it is to learn to read SW - as difficult it is to become a fluent
scribe yourself.

When I studied Psychology some years ago I concentrated on frustration
theory -

Only if you realy understand the benefits of SW you will be able to
overcome the first period of hard work ...
(I know what I am talking about !! )

I asked Gordian about the idea that some people who are interested to bridge
the cultures of hearing and deaf think that there is no need for
GebaerdenSchrift (as we call SW here in Germany) He did not get upset but
gave me a wise smile -


Stefan ;-)

----- Original Message -----
From: Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2001 1:04 PM
Subject: Re: Is SignWriting Necessary?

> I agree with your thoughts, Stuart. My humorous take on the video
> issue was: if video is the equivalent of writing for sign languages, does
> that mean that people whose VCR is still flashing 12:00 are illiterate?
> Your criticism and Antonio Carlos's are apt: it may be possible to
> create a quick video with a Webcam or a camcorder, but it is not as easy
> as picking up a pad and paper, or typing an email. And if you try and
> stick a video to a bulletin board or a refrigerator door, you don't
> communicate the way you would have if you had done that with a piece of
> paper.
> As to the other question of "visual ASL, written English" (leaving
> aside the fact that written English is visual too), I'm reading a
> fascinating book right now:
> Joseph, John Earl. 1987. Eloquence and power: The rise of language
> standards and standard languages. New York: Basil Blackwell.
> As I read Joseph's description of the creation of standard
> languages, I was continually struck by the similarities between the
> current situation of ASL with respect to English, the situation of English
> with respect to Latin in the Middle Ages and the situation of Latin with
> respect to Greek during the rise of the Roman Empire.
> Here's a quote from Joseph (pages 104-105) that seemed
> particularly germane to your posting. In this case, ASL is the
> "vernacular" and "L", and English is the "Standard H":
> > The expansion of vernacular function does not occur without strong
> > resistance. Prejudices die hard, and one will invitably encounter the
> > opinion that the vernacular is not suitable for use in formal domains
> > [...]. Much of the resistance comes from the higher social strata,
> > persons whose ability in handling Standard H may have been acquired at
> > the expense of years of effort.
> --
> -Angus B. Grieve-Smith
> Linguistics Department
> University of New Mexico

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