Sophistication of Sign Languages?

Valerie Sutton Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Jun 11 17:24:24 UTC 2002

SignWriting List
June 11, 2002

Susanne from Germany wrote:
>Secondly: from my informal observations I would not think that ASL is
>more sophisticated or elaborate than other sign languages, at least
>not it the mentioned respect. My observation is that, in cases where
>there could be confusion of the kind that is disambiguated in DGS
>mostly through mouthing, ASL makes much more use of fingerspelling
>and/or initialized signs. This, just like mouthing in DGS, gives the
>context as to what "word" is referred to.

Hello Susanne, Stefan, Tini and everyone -
How interesting, and yes, Susanne, I agree with everything you said above.

I do not believe that ASL is a more sophisticated language. Judging
from what I have seen of different signed languages around the world
on videotape and in person, each signed language has its own rich and
unique vocabulary, grammar and syntax...and no one signed language is
richer or better than another.

And you are right, Susanne, about the American tendancy to
fingerspell every new technological term that exists - The American
Deaf use fingerspelling as a way to introduce new vocabulary into
their language. In time, if people have to fingerspell the sign a
lot, they slowly develop a sign for that term. Or, the fingerspelling
is shortened and becomes a sign in its own right. That is connected
with our American culture, but it does not mean it would necessarily
be good or natural for other signed languages around the world...

This is what I think...In time the world will become more and more
global. As we become one big world community, we all will change for
the better. More and more cultures will be understood, and who knows?
We might even have a global currency...I hope so! (I think it should
be called the "globe"...How many globes does it cost? )....;-)))

This SignWriting List is an example of how cultures are coming
together through global communication. And as globalization evolves,
I believe SignWriting will play an important role. No one Sign
Language should dominate. Instead, different signed languages should
be written, respected and preserved, on an equal basis. Don't you

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

Read & Write Sign Languages

Sign Language Dictionaries

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Read & Write Movement & Gesture

Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
tel: 858-456-0098....fax: 858-456-0020

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