dictionaries are vitally important

Fernando Capovilla capovila at USP.BR
Wed Jul 16 21:02:21 UTC 2003


Dear Antonio Carlos:

With all due respect, but I am afraid no one would be entitled to speak on behalf of a country of 150 million inhabitants, a population which includes 2 million deaf, specially by remarking "that in Brazil we have never been keen to the dictionary." I wonder whom one might be referring to by the noun "we".

I deal directly with a population of 2,000 deaf students in Sao Paulo main schools. (My students and I have assessed their cognitive and language skills over the last three years). And I am glad to say that they seem, indeed, quite keen to using the Libras trilingual dictionary (which is also a SignWriting dictionary, since it does include
signwriting of each documented sign). It is reassuring to learn that the SW dictionary has been increasingly used for the purpose of reading and writing signs. Our deaf kids use the dictionary as a guide to write signs by hand (they do not type, specially because computers are, unfortunately, still quite rare).

So, as a matter of fact, our small sample of 2,000 Brazilian deaf kids seem to be quite keen to using dictionaries. They just don
 ±²  do that more often simply because obtuse federal government authorities unfortunately insist on not giving them the right to use dictionaries. Dictionaries are fully available to the ministry, but authorities seem
oblivious to the importance of dictionaries to deaf students, and, consequently, still fail to use sign language publications to implement concrete educational policies for the deaf students.

If we, teachers, researchers and scientists side with the authorities instead of with deaf students, thus failing to realize the importance and effectiveness of dictionaries, then, most certainly the scarcity of educational resources to deaf kids will continue to be perpetuated year after year, so that deaf kids won
 ±²  be keen to anything academic
at all.

It is our experience that Brazilian deaf kids do love the SW dictionary. Unfortunately, the 1,200 exemplars donated to schools are still too few and remain locked in the closet most of the time simply because they are so rare (an unfair ratio: 1 thousand dictionaries / 2 million deaf).


Fernando Capovilla


With all due respect, in Brazil we have

> ------------------------------
> Date:    Fri, 11 Jul 2003 14:32:31 -0300
> From:    Antonio Carlos da Rocha Costa <rocha at ATLAS.UCPEL.TCHE.BR>
> Subject: Re: Dan's SWML suggestion about pasting sign sentences from
>          dictionaries
> Angus, Dan, Valerie,...
>   Just to remark that in Brazil we have never been keen to the
> dictionary. Everybody is always retyping signs as they are needed.
> Almost no one has developed dictionaries for storing in the SignWriter
> program.
>   As well as few people are actually printing from SignWriter. Everybody
> do screen captures, rearrange the signs in some graphical editor
> (usually MS Paint) and then either print the document
> or else use MS Word to build larger documents, and then print from
> it.
>   All the best,
>   Antonio Carlos
> ------------------------------
> Date:    Fri, 11 Jul 2003 11:08:12 -0700
> From:    Valerie Sutton <sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG>
> Subject: Brazilian typing and dictionaries...
> SignWriting List
> July 11, 2003
> On Friday, July 11, 2003, at 10:32 AM, Antonio Carlos da Rocha Costa
> wrote:
> > Just to remark that in Brazil we have never been keen to the
> > dictionary. Everybody is always retyping signs as they are needed.
> > Almost no one has developed dictionaries for storing in the SignWriter
> > program.
> Ha! So in Brazil they type SignWriting, but you are also developing
> SW-Edit, which does not type...
> This just shows how it depends on what you have been handed...
> American users, can paste from a dictionary only because they were
> handed a dictionary of 3,100 signs inside SignWriter. We were spoiled!
> But Brazil was not handed a dictionary...You were handed SignWriter
> with an empty Brazilian dictionary file, waiting for you to fill it
> with signs...same with all other countries...In Germany, they now have
> a 9,000-sign dictionary in SignWriter. But in Brazil you have chosen
> not to use dictionaries...But if you had been handed SignWriter with
> 3000 Brazilian signs already typed for you, do you think people would
> be pasting sentences in Brazil from entries in the dictionary?
> ....smile...
> Val ;-)

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