Date: Mon Apr 1, 2002 10:01
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: sw and writing Signed English
April 1, 2002
>If it is only for fun - to experience that you really can write movement -
>it should be ok. From my point of view SW is a tool - a writing system -
>and therefor you can use it just the way any other writing system has been
>used in the past. No new or additional risks ??
Hello Stefan and Everyone!
Of course you are absolutely right - The purpose of SignWriting is to
give signers a tool...a way to write the movements of the languages
SignWriting is for fun. And we want to encourage people to enjoy
trying to write signs...I know I personally would never stand in
judgement of someone else's language. I can only give them symbols to
write with...they have to make their own language choices.
And SignWriting is really only a bunch of symbols - it is not a
specific language philosophy...
So go right ahead and do as you are doing, Stefan...You are doing an
excellent job! And I am sure in time, as the writing system spreads
in Germany, that some members of the German Deaf Community will be
interested and will try to establish the writing of their native
Remember that Nicaragua is a very different situation. It is nothing
like Germany. James is teaching Deaf children from great
poverty...children who were not only born-deaf with no education, but
also children who were hungry, who had no doctors and lived in
poor-quality housing. No running water. No electricity. Some were
neglected children. And from that beginning, James created a school -
what a strong person! James and Judy watched a language evolve before
their eyes...watching a language begin is an exciting linguistic
event. But in recent years, that pure language is becoming influenced
by outsiders, and some of them are missionaries from other countries
who do not know the native language of Nicaragua. Do you have
missionaries from the US in Germany, teaching American signs to
German deaf children? I guess the equivalent is sort of what it is
happening in Nicaragua...
Did I ever tell you the story about my group here in the US? Back in
the 1980's, when I first started the Deaf Action Committee, I hired
native signing Deaf adults from Deaf families. I taught them
SignWriting and I assumed that they would immediately write correct
American Sign Language grammar, since after all, they sign that
correct grammar to each other daily...but that was not the case.
Since they had never written their grammer, they had never analyzed
it properly. We got this five-page angry letter from another Deaf
person saying we didn't write American Sign Language grammar
correctly...It felt a little like the "grammar police"! We were
supposed to "stop writing" because we were not "perfect enough" ;-))
My Deaf staff members were furious!! But I pointed out to them that
in a strange way this was a success story, because the Deaf person
who criticised us, obviously was able to read SignWriting, or that
person wouldn't have known we were doing bad grammar in the first
place - ha! And we learned from the episode, and wrote better
documents later because of it...
So no swords - just flowers and smiles like your lovely Easter card! Val ;-)