forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Dan Parvaz
Date:  Sun Mar 17, 2002  4:47 pm
Subject:  Re: Names for sign languages

> Don't you mean that the name for the language in that language
> is
> usually translated in English as "sign"? Often the names are different,
> but the translation is the same. It's a problem of translation.

The signs often look very similar from language to language -- two hands
moving in neutral space in an anti-symmetric circular pattern. They
translate to a word in the surrounding spoken language, which can be
translated into English as "sign." I'm not sure how transitive
translation is, so I'm not willing to go any further than that.

However, if you ignore what the sign is glossed at, and pretend you're
just looking at a nonce sign made up from classifiers, you still get at
a meaning which looks something like this:

A language we use, which we make by waving our hands in space, as
opposed to what
they use, which consists of things coming out of their mouths.

> For example, in New Mexico there is an indigenous group that
> calls
> themselves the Dine or Tinde. They are usually called Apache, which
> comes
> (via Spanish) from the name the Zuni gave them, which means "the Enemy."

The very example I was thinking of yesterday. The Diné are also the
Navajo, and their language is called "diné bizaad", or "[the] people,
[their] words." Interestingly enough, AFAIK the Apache actually *prefer*
to be called "abaachii" since they don't get along too well with the
Navajo :-)

Happy St. Paddy's day!


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