SignWriting List
February 1, 2000


What is the difference between the Fast Symbol and the Tension Symbol?

ANSWER 0014:
The Fast Symbol shows speed.... a "quick movement", but there is no tension involved - it is "evenly done but at a fast speed".

The Tension Symbol has no connection with "fast" or "slow"...the speed is normal, but there is a feeling of tension with the movement, or position.

Tension Symbols are also used to "place classifiers"...The Tension Symbol next to a handshape literally means "a position held in space" which does apply to a lot of classifiers in American Sign Language. Because of this, the Tension Symbol is becoming a "classifier marker" when writing ASL...


SignWriting List
February 2, 2000

So in order to avoid guessing, it is better to avoid the dots for the closing of fingers and instead write the beginning and ending position.... Is that right? I myself feel much more comfortable with start -and-end position.

ANSWER 0015:
Referring to Example 0015: Yes..that is right. The dark dot means "squeezing" or closing the middle joint. The movement can finish in a fist, but it can also finish in a claw. Examples 2, 3 and 4 show three different ways the first example can be read....


Now...there are several ways to be very accurate. One of them is to write the beginning and ending positions - then you do not need the dot at all, because you can see what happens.

But if you choose to use the dot, I would suggest placing it on the ending position, and throw out the beginning position. Then you will know how you finish, and assume that you have to start with straight fingers to move into the squeeze.

There are times when the dots are really useful...for example when the movement is "close-close" other words "double" closings. But single closings are not the same - they really don't need the dot, if you write the beginning and ending positions.

So I would suggest using the dots for "double" movement, and for single movement, just write the beginning and ending positions...


Questions? Write to:

Valerie Sutton