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From:  Stefan Woehrmann2
Date:  Sat Nov 24, 2001  11:19 am
Subject:  Re: research paper on sign writing

Hello Karen, Leigh and Listmembers,

just want to let you know that I am very gratefull to you about sharing your
questions and answers. I am pretty much engaged to present
GebaerdenSchrift - as we call SW here in Germany to different users and

There was one idea in your answer which I would like to discuss ..

SW is such a powerfull writing-system that even if beginners produce lots of
spelling mistakes the informed signer is able to understand the idea of his
Sometime I am happy to get hand-written GebaerdenSchrift faxes from one or
the other participants of my courses. It is fun to be able to understand
these documents ..

Karen wrote : "(I assume that in actual practice, Valerie has power of veto
or approval over any
> newly-created handshape symbols).

Hmm well - excuse me Valerie - but I guess that it is not power of veto or
approval ... but the competence to overlook all the details and consequences
that are connected with individual variations and idiosyncratic
writing-styles. There are still details and symbols in the whole
movement-writing system we are not informed about. In the past Valerie
showed up with solutions of specific spelling problems - that introduced new
symbols ( pair of scissors ;-) )
So from my point of view - in order to keep the system as powerfull as it
is - it makes sense to come to an agreement and in the past these questions
about reading and spelling problems made me feel more secure.
As far as I am informed there is only one difference in reading and writing
the angle-flathand - hmm (I myself prefer the version that is offered from
Steve and Dianne Parkhurst because of its systematic logic. Valerie puts
more emphesis on the visual impression -....))
Future will show which spelling is more likely to support a quick reading
and understanding.

Have a great super day
Stefan ;-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Karen A. Van Hoek"
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2001 3:45 AM
Subject: Re: research paper on sign writing

> Hi
> I'm not sure if your question was addressed to Valerie or to the whole
> group; excuse me for jumping in, but I'm one of the professional linguists
> on the list. I can't answer the question about how Valerie made the leaps
> in her invention, but I want to address one bit of confusion that seems to
> be lurking in your question.
> Different sign languages don't actually use the same _phonemic_ units.
> have different phonemes -- different meaningful handshapes, movements, and
> places of articulation. However, all of the phonemes are made out of the
> same basic _phonetic_ elements -- finger configurations and physical
> movement and so forth. So what this means is that the symbols of Sign
> Writing can be easily modified to represent any new handshapes or
> that may be discovered in a new sign language, and the total stock of SW
> symbols can be used to write a huge range of sign languages, but any
> individual sign language will only use some of those handshapes, etc. So
> any newly-discovered sign language could be written in SW pretty much
> immediately, using existing symbols for all the phonemes that are
> essentially the same as in other sign languages and quickly modifying
> existing symbols as needed to represent new handshapes (I assume that in
> actual practice, Valerie has power of veto or approval over any
> newly-created handshape symbols). But this is not claiming that all sign
> languages have the same _phonemes_, the same basic stock of "meaningful"
> elements from which signs are built; it's claiming that the meaningful
> elements in any sign language are composed of the same smaller physical
> elements (such as finger positions and so forth) so that any new phonemes
> can easily be represented with only modest revision of the existing symbol
> set.
> I hope this helps. If this still isn't clear, please let me know. I think
> there's a critical distinction here between phonemic and phonetic
> information that doesn't seem to be completely clear in your message
> and I'm not sure if the paragraph above is sufficient to straighten it
> Karen van Hoek
> --On Friday, November 23, 2001 10:01 PM +0000 Leigh Golston

> wrote:
> > How does, or can , sign writing be applied to all signed languages? It
> > seems to us from reviewing briefly Dance Writing that you have
> > successfully taking the phonemes of movement, body (vs. palm)
> > orientation, location and the shapes of the movement and created a
> > notation system that allows one to see and understand the individual
> > components of each step. We see that the same has occured with Sign
> > Writing and signed language. But linguistically speaking , how did you
> > make the leap?
> > We are also making the assumption in our paper that since all signed
> > languages use the same phonemic units, then Sign Writing can be applied
> > all signed languages. If we are correct, do you have any sources you can
> > direct us to, to support this?
> > I hope this makes sense. we are thrilled to be researching this topic,
> > holds great fascination for us as ITP students.
> > Look forward to hearing from you soon,
> > Leigh Golston (I'm the inquirer)
> > Jesse Mohandessi
> > Yvonne MacKay
> > PS- A brief introduction: There are 3 ITP students @ Seattle Central
> > Community College in Washington state. All of us have arrived at this
> > point in different ways. Since I am writing this on behalf of my team
> > this intro is about me.
> > I became interested in ASL many years, growing up with a hard-of-hearing
> > father. I never thought about signing as a career and came to my
> > to became an interpreter late in life.( I'm 47). To complete the
> > requirements for an AA degree (I have a BA and BFA) we are required to
> > take lingusitics. Our instructor is marvelous and challenging. Really,
> > is the topic itself that's challenging and fascinating. I told him in
> > the first part of the quarter that I loved the class but that I expected
> > to fall it! We'll see but either way I'll go down smiling!!
> > Thanks.

  Replies Author Date
5942 Re: research paper on sign writing Valerie Sutton Sat  11/24/2001

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