forum SignWriting List Forum
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From:  Bill Reese
Date:  Wed Jan 6, 1999  6:13 am
Subject:  Re: bye-bye lingual


Just a note on the Japanese. Three of the "alphabets" are used
together, the fourth is an adaptation of the phonetics using roman
characters and is used apart from the others. The Chinese "alphabet"
(characters) were borrowed from the Chinese language but are pronounced
entirely different. The Hiragana alphabet is added to the Chinese
characters to aid in meaning and pronunciation and, as you pointed out,
can be used exclusively (mostly by children or those first learning the
language). The Katakana alphabet is phonetically the same as Hiragana
and is used to write foreign words. That way they can differentiate
borrowed words from native ones and allows a pronunciation guide for the
borrowed words.

So, while Japanese has different "scripts", as you say, the three used
together represent the total language in it's pronounciation and usage.
To use one exclusively would be like an English user using a literal
translation of Sign language. We don't say "Now store go I". We
understand it but we would add bits and pieces to aid in it's meaning.
The different "alphabets" in Japanese achieve the same thing. So I
don't think it entirely accurate to break written Japanese into parts
and declare each part separate.

I'm not through yet... :-)

Let's get to your assertion that you can't write Signwriting in the
writing system for another language. What makes you define Chinese as a
different language? The Chinese "characters" are pictoral
representations that started out very similar to Signwriting. They have
been stylized through time and certain grammatical rules are used to
define how the characters relate to each other. If that were all there
was, there would be no romanization of the language. However, in the
same sense that the Japanese use Katakana to pronounce foreign words and
we use Romanji to pronounce Japanese, the key is in the pronounciation.
Uterance of sound is the common denominator. In this we agree. But the
pronounciation of a Chinese character has no bearing on it's pictoral
representation. Witness the Japanese use of Chinese characters but
using a totally different pronounciation for those characters.

Theoretically, it could be possible that Signwriting would become
stylized the same as Chinese characters and uterances could be assigned
to the Signwriting "characters". So I don't think we are dealing with a
different "type" of writing so much as dealing with a separation of the
character from any phonetic representation.

Joe Martin wrote:
> I want to thank Carlos; before reading his post I hadn't realized that
> some of the confusion could be because people mean different things by the
> word "bilingual."
> 1. Knowing/using two separate languages (my "literal" meaning)
> 2. the educational model that uses two languages side by
> side--(in Carlos' meaning)--in this case a signed language and
> a national, spoken language.
> Neither of these has anything *directly* to do with Signwriting;
> they are about knowing/learning--Signwriting is to do with writing, which
> is another topic.
> And what you write *IN is something else besides. For instance, Japanese
> in its written form uses four different scripts. Faced with a Japanese
> word, you can choose to write it with a Chinese character for the whole
> word, or you can sound it out and write one symbol for each
> syllable--there are two separate sets of these syllable symbols---or you
> can write it out in our English alphabet letters.
> Reference was made to writing a language "in its own script." Well, if
> such a thing existed, what would be the script of Japanese? Or, are all
> Japanese bi-bilingual because they know all these different ways of
> writing? As far as that goes, you can sit down and invent an alphabet
> in about ten minutes; then you can use it to write English or whatever.
> Doesn't make you bilingual.
> What you CAN do is write pretty much any spoken language in any writing
> system (alphabet or syllable-signs ).
> What you CAN'T do is write a signed language in any of those same
> writng systems.
> You can't write English in Signwriting, and you can't
> write ASL in the English alphabet. There are good solid linguistic reasons
> why not--but since most people don't even know what linguistics IS, all
> you can say is that ....well, what I just said, I guess; to write signed
> languages, you have to have a different TYPE of writing system.
> Which SignWriting is.
> Joe Martin (^_^)

  Replies Author Date
816 Re: bye-bye lingual Joe Martin Thu  1/7/1999
819 Yeow! Joe Martin Thu  1/7/1999
823 Re: bye-bye lingual Bill Reese Thu  1/7/1999
830 actors Joe Martin Thu  1/7/1999
842 Re: actors Mark Penner Fri  1/8/1999
848 Re: bye-bye lingual John Hill Sat  1/9/1999
828 Re: bye-bye lingual Charles Butler Thu  1/7/1999

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