Deaf Residential Schools in the US...
kjoanne403 at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 12 20:52:26 UTC 2007
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>From: "Valerie Sutton" <signwriting at MAC.COM>
>Reply-To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
>To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
>Subject: Re: [sw-l] Deaf Residential Schools in the US...
>Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 11:58:03 -0800
>January 12, 2007
>On Jan 12, 2007, at 11:09 AM, K.J. Boal wrote:
>>>It's all about RESPECT. Children should see from day one that their
>>>teachers respect sign language as a language, and showing respect for
>>>written form is about that.
>>Which will be a more convincing argument once SW is more generally
>>recognized as a valid writing system . . . sorry, but right now there
>>are too many "experts" and, honestly, too many Deaf who either don't know
>>about SW or are against it. I don't think I could argue yet that SW is
>>"the written form" of sign language until it has been accepted and used
>>by more of the Deaf community.
>I know you are playing devil's advocate...so let me play angel's advocate
>and give you my point of view on writing and what it means...
"Angel's advocate" - I like that! :-) My mom and I were discussing what I
was saying on that posting, and at one point she asked me how I would
respond to one of my "devil's advocate" points . . . that's actually why I
wrote what I did about the difference between labeling and language, and how
Language Arts skills need to be taught in a first language and can then be
transferred to a second language. That is where I think SW is most needed.
>Why put the ignorance of others as more important than the thousands of
>people who are writing sign language daily and reading in it right
>now?...To discount their accomplishments and say they are not writing or
>reading the language, which is the implication, is just as unfair, as
>ignoring other people's complaints about it. Both sides deserve equal
>I learned the other day that 70 per cent of Pakistan's population cannot
>read and write, but there is still a written form for the Pakistani spoken
>language...so numbers of users is not the issue...if one person can write
>a newspaper in a writing system, then there is a written form for that
>language...even if only 30 per cent of the population can read it...or 2
>per cent or whatever...but if you interview a person in Pakistan who
>cannot read and write, I bet he or she would not be able to tell you what
>he or she is missing...because they would never have imagined it as a part
>of their own lives to begin with...
True of most of the Deaf community here, too! I do think that's one of the
biggest hurdles to get over . . . the fact that most Deaf have never
imagined reading and writing ASL as part of their lives. What could make
things more difficult . . . most Deaf don't like to read or write because
they've only been exposed to written English, which they find difficult to
understand! Most Deaf don't read for pleasure . . . an attitude I can't
even begin to imagine, since I can't remember ever not being able to read
(been doing it since the age of 3) and have loved reading ever since. I'm
not sure quite how to cross that chasm. . .
>The majority of the population in England in Shakespeare's day, were
>illiterate and did not even understand what reading and writing was, but
>none the less, when Shakespeare wrote a play, he was using the written
>form for English... What was he writing with? chicken scratches?
>smile...there were a small percentage of people in his day that could read
>and write and that was all that mattered, to make it a written form for
>the language...but believe me...in Shakespeare's time many many people
>were against reading and writing...the majority in fact...that was for
>rich people...and there were arguments against creating schools because
>everyday people did not need to learn to read and write...that was their
>argument against reading and writing...
>Meanwhile Shakespeare wrote his plays, no matter what, in a written form
>for English...while this debate was going on...
True! and I have thought of that myself . . . how long it took for written
English to be accepted and the value of universal education recognized . . .
the difference is, in Middle Ages England illiterate people could get jobs,
earn money, live quite comfortably and never (or rarely) run into a
situation where they needed to be able to read a single word. . . in
modern-day America, illiteracy is a serious handicap in nearly every aspect
of life. Nobody today argues that Deaf people don't need to learn to read
and write! But educators only see the value of reading and writing English;
they don't see the value of ASL literacy.
>James in Nicaragua has written some 40 books for his students (yes...a
>very long list) in Nicaraguan Sign Language in SignWriting...Did he not
>write it in a written form for the language? if not...then what was he
Well, sure, but that's Nicaraguan Sign Language! (sorry... a little devil's
advocate showing up there... but that is a common attitude in
English-speaking North America, as I'm sure you know - the idea that if it's
not specifically here, it's not worth discussing. We are awfully arrogant
here, aren't we!)
>Just because other Nicaraguans may not know right now that there is a way
>to write, does not mean the written form does not exist...and there is no
>other writing system that can write literature in sign language other than
>SignWriting...the Stokoe system has never published a story with
>punctuation...only SignWriting has punctuation for sentences...so there
>isn't another one for writing literature in the world that I personally
Actually, punctuation isn't required for literature . . the Hebrew Old
Testament is written not only without punctuation but also without vowels!
But has the Stokoe system published a story at all? ever? I can't imagine
it has . . . and from what I've seen of HamNoSys, I can't imagine it being
used for anything more than individual signs or short sentences . . . so I
agree, Sutton SignWriting is the only system that has ever been used for
publishing literature in any signed language.
>Just my beef...to place the fact that people are afraid of change...to put
>their opinion first, when they have never have been properly introduced to
>the writing system at all... and ignoring the vast amount of work already
>accomplished...is not a balanced picture...
Speaking of pictures, I know another argument people have used against SW is
that it's not writing at all but drawing . . . of course the most obvious
answer to that is Egyptian hieroglyphics . . . nobody in the linguistic
community would dare suggest that's not a writing system, even though it is
pictoral! (I was just thinking about that yesterday at work . . . I was
wiring pins together and once you have the technique on that there's lots of
time to think . . . smile.) Of course, many Asian writing systems are also
based on pictures.
>Others do this all the time and I have to vent - ha!
Not a problem - what you were saying is constructive, not just complaining!
>There are many definitions of what "the written form" means...for me it
>means that for the first time we have the chance and the choice to be able
>to read and write Sign Language Literature if we choose to, and people who
>are against that just need to have a little more contact with it and they
>will agree and be pleased...
>So yes...there is a written form for any signed language in the world, and
>I use it everyday...and more people will in time...
>My two cents!
And worth it at twice the price! :-)
Thanks for your comments, Val - I certainly didn't mean to upset you or
anyone else on the list . . . I'm just looking for ideas that I might not
have thought of to answer these objections! After all, since I'm relatively
new to SignWriting and I know you must have run into every objection I'm
running into, I appreciate your answers - whether they're confirming that
I'm on the right track, or totally off-base, or just another, clearer way of
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