Date: Thu Mar 7, 2002 4:29
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Is SignWriting really a writing system?
March 7, 2002
Dear SW List Members:
There is a course in linguistics that includes SignWriting at the
University of Southern Maine, taught by Judy Shepard-Kegl...
Judy asked me to read the messages by some of the course participants
regarding SignWriting...most of it was very positive until Judy asked
if they felt SignWriting could be a "real writing system", rather
than just a "transcription system"...
The students, whom I believe are all hearing people, and probably not
that fluent in any signed language, complained that "no one would
want to use it for a daily writing system because it is like
heiroglyphics"...so I just responded to their discussion
board...thought you might like to read my answer too...
Posted March 7, 2002
Hello Everyone -
I do not know your specific project, but regarding SignWriting...of
course if your native language is English, and you are a hearing
person, then reading and writing English is what is important to
But there are some born-deaf people who have never heard a spoken
language, and never will in their entire lifetimes. Their native
language is not a spoken language, but a signed language, and for
some born-deaf people, learning to read and write a spoken language
they have never heard is very difficult...and so they remain
illiterate their entire lives and the rest of the world doesn't know
what to do about it, including the teachers in the educational system.
Meanwhile, with SignWriting, there are some born-deaf children who
are reading and writing for the first time in their lives, and their
English skills are now improving because they have a way to read and
write their own language.
So SignWriting is not heiroglyphics...SignWriting is a way to read
and write hundreds of signed languages, and for some people, like
Ancelmo in Nicaragua, it has proved a blessing -
My thought for the day!
PS. Judy Kegl and James Shepard Kegl have pioneered this idea. Their
work with SignWriting has brought literacy to many, and has also
proven SignWriting's value...