forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Dan Parvaz
Date:  Fri Mar 8, 2002  3:20 pm
Subject:  Re: Is signwriting really a writing system?

> I have just read Dan Parvaz's contribution to the discussion on
> signwriting as a writing system.

Grazzi! More of a rant, actually :-)

>   I hope Dan doesn't mind me saying that would not push aside the great
> developments that can be partly or fully attributed to the alphabetic
> invention.  They are many.

Hm. Other than ease of learning (due to a smaller character set), what
else is there? They're certainly easier to type... for me, anyway.

Not having an alphabetic script has not prevented the development of
various kinds of technology and impressive engineering feats
(explosives, the Great Wall of China, pyramids, medical traditions,
astronomy), mass communication (the printing press), World-level
religious and philosophical systems (Confuscianism, Taoism, and the
heavy influence in much of Christianity from the cults of Isis and
Osiris), or highly developed civilizations.

> This same system, i.e Sutton Signwriting System, can easily be used
> "phonemically" once the writer (previously transcriber) gets used to
> the system. At that stage he or she will become a writer using what we
> could call a shallow orthographic system (meaning more like Spanish
> than like English). 

I think in some ways we already do. For example, when most of us write
the sign for I or ME, we almost never make note of the fact that the
finger is bent at the knuckle -- a phonotactic constraint that makes
producing this sign something other than uncomfortable.

> You may hear from my colleague, Maria Azzopardi, very soon.  She could
> tell you how (and how much) she is using signwriting.  Later on we will
> send the sw-list details on our work on a dictionary for LSM (Maltese
> Sign Language) using signwriting.

I'll love to see the dictionary when it came out. I've met one Maltese
Deaf person, and we had a fun time figuring out each other's language.



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