forum SignWriting List Forum
  Message 743  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index
From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Wed Dec 23, 1998  1:31 am
Subject:  Re: Writing Fingerspelling in SW

>I sent in a response regarding Sign Writing itself a while back and Valerie
>posted it on the SignWriting site. I feel that what we've been discussing (or
>in my case just reading :D ) is an extension of that.
>Remember that Sign Writing is for recording Signs not sounds.
>- William J. "Chip" McGruder
>Monterey, CA

December 22, 1998

Hi Chip! Thanks for the message, and happy holidays!

For those of you who do not have web access, here is the message Chip wrote
back in April....

April 23, 1998 - Perspectives on SignWriting
by William J. "Chip" McGruder

Date: Wed, 22 Apr 1998 22:50:31 EDT
To: SignWriting List
Subject: Personal perspective on SignWriting

I've waited quite a while to send this particular email, mostly because I
wanted to see others' reactions to the flash cards idea.

As a hearing person, I realize I can't be totally assimilated into the Deaf
Culture; however, I do realize the
reverse is true: the Deaf can't be totally assimilated into the Hearing
Culture either.

Perhaps one major obstacle is the widely perceived lack of a writing system
for Deaf or Signed Languages. DAC has done an outstanding job, in my
opinion, against incredible odds. I realize that SignWriting is, in fact, a
writing system solely for Signed Languages. The general hearing population,
though, is completely unaware of it, either through ignorance or just plain
ignoring it and thus perceive their lack of knowledge of something as a
lack of that thing's very existence.

"Educated" people in Europe and the Americas evidently can't consider a
people to be worth respecting that people has a "decent" language. These
same people also arbitrarily apply their criteria of "decency" to Signed
Languages and find those languages wanting; i.e., not having a script and
therefore not "real languages." I've heard that opinion more times than I
can count! Each time, it's proof of the widespread prejudice against Signed

SignWriting may take a little longer to write by hand or type than English
or any other alphabetic language for that matter. The essential point is
there are other spoken, non-alphabetic languages in widespread use today;
each of these languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Cherokee [not
widespread, but still a living language]) has not only a script, but a
means for typing that script, even via a computer keyboard. Chinese is
quite cumbersome, Japanese less so; Korean is tricky if you're unaware of
the language's intricacies in written form; and Cherokee uses the English
letters for different sounds!

Why should Signed Languages be any different? Governments arbitrarily
declare the native language of a Deaf child is that of the Hearing parents
and schools in the past have attempted to just "ignore the problem" of
educating the Deaf. This is patently wrong for many reasons. The first step
on overcoming some of the prejudice is to be able to point out, and point
out proudly, "here's how we write our language!"

Now that there's a rapidly growing movement to write Signed Languages, many
hearing persons will be attracted to the mystery of the script itself. From
there, they will naturally be drawn to learning the language in all of its
beauty. Sign Language will no longer be "pretty dancing movements" but will
be "A sturdy and rich language of its own, one which ought to be studied
and preserved, preserved in its own native script."

William J. "Chip" McGruder
Monterey, CA, USA


Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

  Message 743  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index