Ordering Signs

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Nov 30 17:23:21 UTC 2009

SignWriting List
November 30, 2009

Hello Andre!
I feel soooo happy to receive this message from you. What a remarkable  
message this is. Very few people in the history of SignWriting can  
provide information on testing how Deaf children look up signs, by  
Sign Symbols, in dictionaries written in SignWriting. That is because  
very few people have classrooms of Deaf children fluent in  
SignWriting, and your classroom in French-Canada, using LSQ, is one of  
those historic places, that we can point to, when discussing the  
theories on sign-symbol-searches.

Of course there are classrooms around the world using  
SignWriting...Stefan Woehrmann's classroom in Germany, for example,  
and classrooms in Nicaragua and Belgium and Brazil and other  
countries...and they are all doing wonderful work...

Have any other teachers tested how Deaf children look up signs in  
dictionaries without using any spoken language? Just searching for  
signs sorted by Sign-Symbol-Sequence (alphabetical order of  
SignWriting symbols)? If so, please tell us how it worked for your  

I am hoping to start, at the end of 2010, to improve our printed  
dictionaries...and then distribute the printed dictionaries to groups  
of signers to see if they can find signs in those printed  
dictionaries, sorted by Sign-Symbols...but that project hasn't started  

I can see, Andre, that you have already started such a project and I  
am very interested to read your results...I will save this message to  
refer to later...and THANK YOU for sharing with us...

What excites me the most, is that you have found that it is beneficial  
for your Deaf students, to use SignWriting in dictionaries. That is  
meaningful, to know that SignWriting is making a difference in  
people's lives...If it can help some Deaf children to learn how to use  
dictionaries, that is wonderful.

Out of the 13 different handshapes listed in Group 1 of the ISWA, LSQ  
(Quebec Sign Language) only uses 5 out of the 13 handshapes...The  
International SignWriting Alphabet was never meant to be used in its  
entirety by all sign languages...We all assume that each sign language  
will only use some of the symbols in the ISWA, just as the full IPA is  
not used to write this message in English...

So I look forward to learning more about your project, Andre -

Thanks again for your sharing with us -

Val ;-)


On Nov 29, 2009, at 3:50 AM, Gagnon et Thibeault wrote:

> Hi Trevor, Charles, Gerard, Christophe, and everyone
>     A Deaf teacher and I have been working on a Sign Writing LSQ (a  
> written LSQ) dictionary for one month now.  The Deaf teacher has  
> been testing if Deaf children are able to look up SW orders without  
> alphabetic orders in the dictionary.
>     It seems that it works well because Deaf children who have  
> difficulties to read a written French can directly find a written  
> LSQ to help them find a French word in the dictionary.
>     Charles mentioned that handshape orders are “index finger”,  
> “index & middle finger”, “index finger, middle, & thumb”, “four  
> fingers”, “four fingers & thumb”, “thumb & small finger”, “thumb &  
> ring finger”, “thumb & index finger”, and “thumb & fist”.  I focus  
> on “Index Finger”. You will see the attached ISWA.  The Index Finger  
> has 13 different handshapes from ISWA in the world. However, the  
> Index Finger of the LSQ has only 5 different handshapes.
>     In addition, you will see the attached location orders.   
> Location orders have 5 parts: 1) head & neck, 2) trunk & leg, 3)  
> arm, 4) hand, 5) neutral space.  If you look up a written LSQ in the  
> dictionary, you must think from the high level of location to the  
> low level of location. Contact symbols which include touch, hit, rub  
> and so forth interact with a specific area of the body.  If the hand  
> or the finger touches the nose, you look up quickly a head location  
> order.  For example, if a signer produces BELIEVE (ASL), the index  
> finger touches the middle front: you look up a “head” location  
> order.  Another example, if the signer produces SHOW (ASL), the  
> index finger of the right hand touches the palm of the left hand.  
> You look up a hand location order.  If the signer produces ONE  
> (ASL), the index finger is the  front of the shoulder without  
> contact symbols.  You look up a last (neutral space) location order.
>     You will see the attached SW orders.  You will find a first  
> page.  You look up index finger and location orders. EYE (LSQ) is a  
> highest level of the head than higher level of the head for TOOTH  
> (LSQ) than a high level of the head for CANDY (LSQ) than a low level  
> of the head for TO SAY (LSQ).
>     Trevor, if the signer who uses a British manual alphabet  
> produces “A” (BSL), the index finger of the right hand touches the  
> thumb of the left hand (handshape 5).  You look up an index finger  
> order and a hand location order in the BSL dictionary.  If the  
> signer produces “I” (BSL), the index finger of the right hand  
> touches the tip of the middle finger of the left hand (handshape   
> 5).  You look up an index finger order and a hand location order.  
> You will see the attached SW orders (page 21).
>     We will adjust and test the LSQ dictionary.  We are still  
> working on it.   If Trevor, Charles or everyone takes a (SW)  
> workshop or attends a (SW) conference, we will be happy to teach him/ 
> her how to look up quickly your own sign language in the dictionary.
>     Best regards,
>     André
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