common criticisms of signwriting?

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Sun Nov 15 11:02:32 UTC 2009


I see what you mean.

I meant to say that, since I only need about 50 characters, I only have
to use the 26 lowercase and uppercase letters of the Latin alphabet as
used in English (and I use the usual punctuation marks for punctuation,
as nearly as possible).

This is merely to avoid having to download a special font. I do think
having a special font, designed with the graphical nature of sign
languages in mind, is a much better solution.


On Sun, 2009-11-15 at 11:52 +0100, Gerard Meijssen wrote:
> Hoi, 
> I am still confused.. ASCII consists of 128 characters and 33 are non
> printable, they include the numbers and other special characters like
> the @#$%&*()_=- ...The non printable characters are effectively
> obsoliete .. Indeed, the upper case and lower case characters are in
> there.. I hear you when you say characters can be given another
> meaning, but ASCII is a subset of the Latin script and it is archaic
> at best now that everyone has more or less adopted Unicode. Do you
> really mean ASCII ?
> Thanks,
>      Gerard
> 2009/11/15 Sandy Fleming <sandy at>
>         On Sun, 2009-11-15 at 10:51 +0100, Gerard Meijssen wrote:
>         > Hoi,
>         > Theoretically I agree, symbols can be divorced from their
>         accepted
>         > meaning.. However, it would create utter confusion by people
>         who are
>         > used for the characters in a script to have a relation that
>         is well
>         > defined to sounds. They will try to pronounce it... only to
>         learn that
>         > they are not used in that way anymore.. It is the same with
>         > standardised transliteration from one script to another..
>         The sound
>         > implied is no longer there. This makes no difference if it
>         is your
>         > sound values that are mapped.. and indeed it is a foreign
>         language
>         > that is represented so it is ok, the sounds are however
>         still mapped
>         > to one sounding system.
>         I agree with that, and I wouldn't want to advocate any
>         particular way of
>         writing at too early a stage. Do we want to use the findings
>         of modern
>         linguistics to simplify SignWriting (especially if we can
>         reduce the
>         size of the ISWA dramatically) or devise something completely
>         different?
>         I don't know what's best, but I do think that one or the other
>         will
>         happen as people become more aware of findings in linguistics,
>         especially with respect to sign language universals.
>         Note that when I talk about "simplifying SignWriting" I don't
>         mean using
>         shorthand. I mean simplifying it in such a way that
>         information
>         significant to sign language execution isn't lost.
>         > One immediate problem is that SignWriting illustrates well
>         how
>         > complicated it is .. I wonder if there are enough characters
>         in the
>         > alphabetic scripts to represent sign languages and, if it
>         can be done
>         > in a universal way. It is however not the kind of research I
>         find
>         > appealing as my gut feeling says that it will not work.
>         I don't think SignWriting does illustrate the complexity of
>         the problem,
>         because SignWriting is more complex than it needs to be.
>         To lay my cards on the table, I've been devising and working
>         with an
>         ASCII-based system and a similar specially-designed font
>         (hence my long
>         absence!) and I don't find any pressing need for more than
>         about 50
>         characters. This system is written linearly. I find I can
>         write stuff in
>         BSL with the ASCII character set and a few months later I can
>         still read
>         it.
>         I'm now trying to decide whether it's best to stick with the
>         linear
>         version of the script or whether it would be better to just
>         try to
>         reduce the ISWA and stick with SignWriting.
>         I don't know if anybody remembers that I did submit a text in
>         "linear
>         SignWriting" to the list a long time ago, but it wasn't well
>         received  :)
>         Sandy Fleming


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