Dan's SWML suggestion about pasting sign sentences from dictionaries

Angus B. Grieve-Smith grvsmth at UNM.EDU
Fri Jul 11 11:13:39 UTC 2003

On Thu, 10 Jul 2003, Dan Parvaz wrote:

> What might be a cause for concern is if Deaf kids get used to typing out
> glosses for signs. There is no real correspondence between the two, and
> not only will it mess with the kids' competence in signed languages,
> you're also going to have issues with spoken languages as well (isn't
> the point here to move ~beyond~ "yesterday me car?"). But that's a
> pedagogical issue... not a text processing one.

        But SignWriter is not just about text processing.  Every text
processing tool changes the language, just like every dictionary changes
the language.  As you say, the whole point is to have a way to type
without relying on spoken languages, which is why I was a little concerned
from the beginning when Cecelia chose to copy and paste signs from the
dictionary rather than learning to type.

        I think one of the reasons for this is that the typing process in
SignWriter is confusing and unintuitive.  I'm not sure how I'd change
this, but it'd be nice to try and get some usability/ergonomics people to
review it.

        Despite this, my understanding was that it was mostly the teachers
who cut and pasted from the dictionary, and that the students were typing
on their own.  Cecelia told me of at least one instance early on when a
student couldn't find a sign in the dictionary and typed it in.  Can some
of the Hodgin folks confirm this?  Stefan?

        If it is mostly the teachers who use the dictionary instead of
typing, then we certainly shouldn't build that into the system.  In any
case, I thought the point of SWML (as opposed to SignWriting in general)
was to provide an alternative to the binary .sgn format.

                                        -Angus B. Grieve-Smith
                                        Linguistics Department
                                        University of New Mexico
                                        grvsmth at unm.edu
                                        grvsmth at panix.com

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