|SignWriting List Forum|
Valerie Sutton |
Date: Fri Jan 29, 1999 2:23 am
Subject: Re: Notation Systems
On Thu, 14 Jan 1999, Susanne wrote:
>Has anyone compared different notation systems for signed languages as to
>different purposes for different systems? I mean, for example, SignWriting
>is obviously used to actually write things down for people to read.
>HamNoSys on the other hand, and other systems too, are aimed more at the
>linguistic side of the language. Its main purpose is to transcribe signs in
>order to analyse them.
Then I responded....
>>But when it comes to comparing SignWriting with other linguistically based
>>systems, there has been little done, mainly because SignWriting is so
>>different. I have always felt it was like comparing apples with oranges. I
>>do have a few student papers that made comparisons with other
>>linguistically based systems. I cannot say that the authors were experts,
>>but I will be happy to look for those papers and send them to you if you
>>wish. One was written at Brown University, by a student in the linguistics
>>department there. If you are interested, I will write to her to ask her
>>permission, and then send it on to you.
January 28, 1999
I immediately received several private email messages asking for the
comparisons of different notation systems. I went into my files and found
the two student papers I was thinking of, and I was disappointed when I saw
them, because they do not compare HamNoSys and SignWriting at all - they
just show how the different systems look side by side. A true comparison
shows the exact same movement written in the different systems, with an
explanation on how each system approaches writing the exact same movements.
So I am sorry to say I do not have any true comparisons to give you :-(
In the dance world, the expert in Labanotation, Dr. Ann Hutchinson-Guest,
published a "true comparison" between Labanotation, Benesh Notation and
Sutton DanceWriting. This was published in a beautiful hard-covered book,
in which great effort was taken to be accurate. It was a wonderful
experience for me and our DanceWriters at the Boston Conservatory of Music.
Dr. Guest sent us complete descriptions of the movements to be written, and
then we wrote those movements in DanceWriting, providing the camera ready
art work. Dr. Guest asked the same of the other systems too, and she
published the different ways of writing side by side in a thick volume. I
hope to post some of those comparisons on our DanceWriting Web Site in time.
My question is this...perhaps we could do something similar comparing
HamNoSys, Stokoe and SignWriting? I would be happy to post the comparison
on our SignWriting Web Site. Is there anyone who is skilled in Stokoe or
HamNoSys, who would be willing to work with me on this? Perhaps one of the
linguists on the SignWriting List? I think we should try one short sentence
in ASL. Once we have a Stokoe and HamNoSys volunteer, we can decide which
sentence to write, as a team, and then send each other examples as attached
files through email. Then I can post the comparison, and announce it to the
As you know, in a few weeks I am planning to post an "advanced" reading
lesson in SignWriting, and that lesson will have small photos of each sign
in full ASL sentences. Because there will be photos, one of those sentences
will be a good choice for such a comparison, because the Stokoe and
HamNoSys notators will have pictures to work from.
So, if there is anyone interested in this, please contact me, and maybe we
can work on this in March or April or May...no rush. I think it will be an
important addition to our web site, and if it seems useful, we can add more
Thanks for your interest, Susanne, and I hope in time it will be easy for
us to direct people to an accurate comparison on the web!
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