Date: Thu Jan 14, 1999 7:03
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: Notation Systems
>Actually, my personal experience is that I find sign writing to carry a
>great deal of linguistic information that I'm sure that HamNoSys does
>(not being familiar with it), but that Sign Writing does in a way that
>even a person who is not a linguist can understand, precisely because
>there is no intrinsic linguistic bias, one is writing what one sees.
As I said, I am not very familiar with SignWriting, but I always understood
it to be a more 'general' or 'rough' system. In HamNoSys as well you write
down what you see and there is no linguistic bias to it I should say. But,
yes, although it's also quite iconic it's not iconic in a way that enables
one to read it without knowing how the system works.
>Example, in some signs the letter "B" and the "flat palm" are
>interchangable in some dialects of ASL, so writing a palm without a B
>line is sufficient. In other dialects that single thumb line is
>linguistically important. Only users of the language can decide when it
>is linguistically important or not, and I'm not sure that HamNoSys or
>Stokoe systems would be able to write one or the other without making a
>fixed decision as to which the "correct" way is. Sign Writing, because
>it does not have a fixed linguistic bias, can write either.
As I said, yyou can write what you see in HamNoSys and that is what you do.
There is (as to yet) no 'orthography' for signs written in HamNoSys, so you
don't automatically set a 'correct' form by transcribing what you see.
HamNoSys does, however, make very fine distinctions for handshapes and,
yes, this can be confusing when you don't know whether the string in
question is a phonetic or a phonologic transcription.
I was just wondering whether this could also happen with SignWriting.
(You can reply to me personally if you think this issue does not belong here)
Institut für Deutsche Gebärdensprache und Kommunikation Gehörloser
University of Hamburg
Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf
20146 Hamburg - Germany