common criticisms of signwriting?

Trevor Jenkins bslwannabe at GMAIL.COM
Fri Nov 6 11:55:19 UTC 2009

Interesting topic. One criticism that I've heard about SignWriting
(from sign language interpreters) is that it is too ideograhic! They
prefer either Stokoe or HamNoSys notations! Yet if you show a Deaf
people something transcribed in Stokoe or HamNoSys and the reaction is
utter confusion. This is exacerbated beacuse the BSL fingerspelling
alphabet (I'm in the UK) is two-handed and completely different from
the one-handed ASL alphabet that is used to label handshapes in

On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 8:40 PM, Erika Hoffmann <erhoffma at> wrote:
> Hi! I mentioned the last time I posted that I'm working on a paper
> about SignWriting for presentation at the American Anthropological
> Association meeting in December.
> One of the things I'm thinking about is the ways in which Signwriting
> and Signwriten documents can be used to critique dominant ideologies
> about language and writing that are common in Linguistics and related
> disciplines. At the same time, I want to note that the radical nature
> of the script can sometimes be a social barrier to its adoption by
> signers (particularly because of the historical relationship between
> the Linguistic validation of sign languages with the social validation
> of Deaf signers).
> I'm wondering if any of you would be willing to share some of the ways
> you've heard people criticize or dismiss SSW (or point me to places
> where these opinions are aired). I'm looking for people's concerns
> about the script itself (i.e., "it looks like hieroglyphics") rather
> than the other common arguments about the need for a script at all
> (i.e., "Deaf people can just write in English").
> Thanks!
> Best,
> Erika
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Regards, Trevor.

<>< Re: deemed!


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