SW Video Captions Receptive Expressive

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Sun Apr 15 15:53:13 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
April 15, 2007

Adam Frost wrote:
> I don't find it difficult to read the caption and watch the signing  
> at the same time. I can view more than one thing at the same time.

This is so interesting, Adam...that is not true for all people...so  
that is a skill that is highly developed in you...

> You have a point that SW caption would be better used if it is used  
> on spoken videos. In fact, that is where I hope that it will  
> eventually go to. :-)

Yes..me too...imagine the amount of information it could provide the  
signing world...plus people's reading skills in SignWriting will  
greatly improve because they will be reading ASL so much to follow  
what is said...

When I lived in Denmark I found the movies they showed on TV, that  
were in German, but with Danish subtitles, was wonderful for me  
because I was just learning how to read Danish and it gave me a great  
training to read those captions and besides...I wanted to find out  
what happened in the movie! So it encouraged my second-language  

In the case of ASL signers, Expressive captioning could encourage  
first-language-literacy as well perhaps...that would be an  
interesting research study...

> I think that generally (especially with caption for spoken videos  
> and of course, literature) SW should be expressive. The way that my  
> brother (Deaf) sister (hearing) brother-in-law (also Deaf) and I  
> were talking about this was that if you have the SW as caption with  
> the signer signing, you are having the "story" read "aloud" to you  
> by the signer. It is not your "voice" that is doing the telling.  
> When you are reading something, it is your "voice" that is doing  
> the telling even if it is just in your head. So we felt that it  
> made sense that a general rule for receptive vs expressive would  
> probably be best to ask the question, "Who's voice is telling the  
> story?" If it is being "told" to you (ie from a person signing to  
> you on a video), then the SW should be receptive. If it is being  
> "told" by you as you read it, then it should be expressive. I hope  
> that made sense.

That makes perfect sense! And that is the exact issue....At least we  
have a choice...and it is good to know that both hearing and deaf  
people in your family have discussed this issue...

But I think most captions have to be reading to oneself...not reading  
aloud...I believe that English captions for English-speaking people  
is expressive, although they don't think about it...I am not reading  
aloud when I watch a film with English captions on the bottom of the  

Val ;-)

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