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From:  Marie Alexander
Date:  Mon Mar 11, 2002  1:45 pm
Subject:  Re: Is signwriting really a writing system?

I just wanted to say that I don't think I can disagree with what Angus said in reply to my comments.   Perhaps I should address a few points:
(1) If we used the IPA for a writing system of a language that is spoken, each symbol would have a precise interpretation irrespective of the present use of the same letters in different orthographies.  However, either this would not go on in the long term because languages change too or the writing system would have to be updated every so often. This is using IPA as a transcription system  which is exactly what it is intended for.  An orthographic system that used an easily readable system would be easier to hear for hearing people.  Just as SW can be easily read by deaf people (and also by hearing people) who know the sign language being written. 
(2) I realise that SW is so much a writing system that most users (at least those I know personally and those who contribute to the list) see the sign language they know and are able to transcribe what they see if they think it is relevant.  This is the use of a writing system at a phonemic level as it were.  As Dan pointed out SW is already used in this way.  Details that do not add information and that do not function significantly are ignored.    The difference is that SW is being used for more than one sign language.  That is its great advantage for linguists (as well as for deaf people interested in sign languages not their own) because they can read the sign in terms of recognising it visually and hence possibly learn it or at least be able to compare it etc for research purposes.
3.  I agree with Stuart re the literacy advantages of SW that one could simply be exchanging one set of efficiencies for another.
3.  In reply to Angus's query: LSM  is the acronym for Il-Lingwa tas-Sinjali Maltija.  I am sorry to disappoint you but at any rate MSL is already "taken". 
4. Finally, can I ask Dan Parvaz which Maltese deaf persons he met... Was it Karl Borg and Dorianne Bezzina?  The Maltese deaf community is very small.  The population of Malta is under 400,000.  So you can't go anywhere without seeing someone you know !!!
Apologies for taking so much space to explain myself.  And of course we will send more information about the dictionary as soon as we can.
Marie Alexander

  Replies Author Date
6503 Re: Is signwriting really a writing system? Angus Grieve-Smith Fri  3/15/2002
6504 Re: Is signwriting really a writing system? Dan Parvaz Fri  3/15/2002
6507 Re: Is signwriting really a writing system? Valerie Sutton Fri  3/15/2002
6518 Names for sign languages Angus B. Grieve-Smith Sun  3/17/2002
6542 Re: Names for sign languages Flavio Medina Tue  3/19/2002
6546 Re: Names for sign languages Valerie Sutton Tue  3/19/2002

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