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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Sat Nov 24, 2001  6:35 pm
Subject:  Re: Is SignWriting Necessary?

SignWriting List
November 24, 2001

Dear SW List -
Just want you to know that I really enjoyed reading this thread about
"Is SignWriting Necessary?".... For those new to the SignWriting
List, go to the SW List Archives to read it:

SignWriting List Archives

Val ;-)


Angus-Grieve Smith wrote:
> 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
> 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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