common criticisms of signwriting?

Kimberley Shaw skifoot at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 23 01:09:19 UTC 2009

Hello all:
     what a great thread this is! I'd been wanting to respond to it
all last week (and am now supposed to be working on my manuscript,
ahem), so am now stealing a moment to add my own two cents.
     One of the early replies mentioned that some Deaf people appear
to feel a sense of pride in belonging to a language that "cannot be
written down", and I suspect there may be something to that.
Especially since we belong to such a text-centric highly-literate
world. Especially since there has been so much emphasis on Deaf people
becoming as much like Hearing people as possible ... perhaps having
signed languages captured on pages and books feels like another Audist
grab for control?
     I myself get contradictory reactions when using SignWriting
around two of my ASL-Deaf friends.
     I belong to a women's chorus, and have begun to interpret some of
the performances over the past year. Since I am not yet a fluent
speaker of ASL, these particular Deaf friends have been advising me as
I prepare ASL versions of the chorus' songs. And so, as we work out
versions of the songs in ASL, I'm transcribing the translations into
SW. Both of them are quite interested in what I do, and will follow
what I write as I write it, and one of them has begun to notice when I
*don't* write something correctly. And when someone else joins our
song-translation sessions, she always shows off how I write down her
signing. My other friend will sometimes ask to see the page after I've
finished writing, and does a good job of reading it on the fly,
without even had any lessons in reading SW. But then they will both
almost always finish with some sort of disclaimer along the lines of
"not for me, but if it works for you, great!" or "what chickenscratch.
I could never do that!"
Kim from Boston


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