|SignWriting List Forum|
Valerie Sutton |
Date: Wed Jan 13, 1999 9:18 pm
Subject: Report on SignWriting In Spain
January 13, 1999
Hello Everyone on the SignWriting List!
I have been off line for several days, but I am now back online. I really
enjoyed opening my email box to see all of the wonderful messages posted to
the SignWriting List!
I have been working over the weekend with visitors from Madrid, Spain.
Steve and Dianne Parkhurst are American linguists who have lived in Spain
for years, recording Spanish Sign Language, using SignWriting. Their work
is outstanding, and I am writing this message to tell you a little bit
I also had the joy of a third visitor...their baby son, Spencer, who is
three months old. I do not have children myself, so it is always a pleasure
for me to come in contact with "little-ones" like Spencer. My mom has kept
the Sutton bassinet all these years. It was purchased in 1948 for my sister
and myself. No one has used it since! So, all these years, the bassinet has
been sitting in my garage, holding DanceWriting textbooks and SignWriting
When I knew that Dianne and Steve were bringing Spencer with them, I
decided to clean out the bassinet, and to my pleasure, Spencer slept in the
Sutton bassinet, looking like an absolute doll! And while we three adults
were working on reading Spanish Sign Language, Spencer was propped up on
red pillows, smiling at us!!
The Parkhursts have done a large and impressive work. They are at an
advanced level with SignWriting, using and stretching the writing system to
its fullest. Not only have they written a textbook with 14 chapters (no
small task), but they have also videotaped Deaf native signers in Spain,
expressing poetry and prose, and the Parkhursts then transcribed from those
videos into SignWriting, creating the most beautiful written documents you
ever have seen!!
Steve Parkhurst has a background in graphics and design, and he created
illustrations for their new textbook. The Parkhursts and I will be sharing
some of our illustrations, so Steve's excellent artwork will benefit all of
Like SignWriting in Nicaragua, which has spread because of the hard work of
James and Judy Shepard-Kegl, SignWriting in Spain seems to be spreading now
too, partly because of the hard work of Steve and Dianne Parkhurst. Of
course, in both countries, there is a team effort with many people. Writing
any signed language is a big job. For example, in Spain, Irma Maria Munoz
Baell and others at the University of Alicante are planning to publish the
beginning chapters of the new textbook. The new publication will be called
"Primeras lecciones de Signo Escritura". Of course, this is all in the
editing stages, but I hope that others on the SignWriting List from Spain
can tell us more about your plans :-)
This morning I awoke with the visual images of written poetry of Spanish
Deaf poets in my head. Steve wrote some of the poetry from the expressive
view, but he also wrote some of it from the overhead view, making a very
artistic impression of the poetry. SignWriting is a flexible writing
system, that can be written from any veiwpoint, so for poetry, the overhead
view is quite mesmerizing. I am looking forward to posting this poetry
under our Deaf Author's Series on our SignWriting Web Site, with permission
from the Deaf poets.
It is very gratifying for me to see SignWriting used on such an advanced
and fulfilled level. The writing of Spanish Sign Language literature is
just as advanced as our SW Level 3 and 4 for ASL, and the writing of short
stories and novels, such as Moby Dick, in Nicaraguan Sign Language.
I worked intensely with Steve and Dianne for two and half days. We read
through the following:
1. 14 chapters of the new textbook teaching SignWriting in Spanish Sign
2. poem "ShipWreck" that uses the 5 Handshape
3. poem where each sign uses the handshape to spell the Spanish word "blanca"
4. poem using handshapes 1 and 0
5. Australian Folktale: The Koala and The Emu
6. Fable: The Bird and The Jar of Water
7. Fable: The Dog and His Bone
and there were others too! Lots of literature written in Spanish Sign
The Parkhursts are still in the USA, visiting family. They will be back in
Madrid by the end of January. You can write to them for more information
about Spanish Sign Language literature:
Steve and Dianne Parkhurst
"Si desean mas contacto personal, pueden escribir a Steve y Dianne
Parkhurst en Madrid. Su direccion de e-mail es: ,
y su telefono es el 91-656-4559 (voz/fax)".
And all good wishes from me, here in La Jolla, California!
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