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From:  Stuart Thiessen
Date:  Fri Jan 8, 1999  2:37 am
Subject:  Re: actors

The thing is Signwriting is not concerned with ideas as the
ideographic writing systems like Chinese and the like are.
Signwriting is concerned with what elements of movement, etc. are
present. For that reason alone (really), SW is able to be available
for any sign language. If SW were ideographic like Chinese, then it
would not be suitable for any sign language but limited to one
particular sign language or family of sign languages.

Really, SW has to be considered a phonetic/phonemic writing
system (or cheremic sp? if you prefer). In spoken terms, I almost
consider it like a writing system that can express any sign
language the phonemic way (by noting the essential representation
of a language) or the phonetic way ( by noting the detailed
representation of a language). It presents the essential elements
of a visual language that are sufficient to communicate what is
happening. That seems very different to me than what Chinese
has. A Mandarin person reading Chinese understands the concept
of the sign, but has no clue how a Cantonese person might
pronounce it (unless he knew it from other ways). On the other
hand, a ASL SW user can sign precisely what a BSL SW user is
writing even though he/she may have no clue what it means.



On 7 Jan 99, at 13:45, Bill Reese wrote:

> Joe - I was wondering when you would get around to the different parts in
> a signwriting symbol.
> I don't see how this is any different than how Chinese characters (or
> Japanese Kanji) evolved. They first started with discrete components that
> represented an item or idea and, when used in conjunction with each other,
> represented more complex or abstract concepts. Even today, if you look at
> the symbols for "Japan", there are two characters representing sun and
> east for Japan is the "land of the rising sun".
> When you look at more complex characters there are different component
> parts that have their own meaning. That is *exactly* why I consider
> signwriting to be similar to these languages. Disregarding variations, a
> given sign will have a set number and type of components. The very fact
> that signwriting has a dictionary of symbols attests to this.
> "grapheme", huh? Interesting visual equivalent of a phoneme. Could we
> say that sign writing has signemes? :-)

Stuart Thiessen
Omaha, Nebraska

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