Sophistication of Sign Languages?

Stefan Woehrmann2 stefanwoehrmann at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 17 18:51:49 UTC 2002

Hello Susanne, Valerie (behind the scenes), Ilka and friends...

Well looking at the different SW documents you will see that very often you
will find only a few facial expressions - especially for indicating
the "mouthing aspect" of the signing.

Sorry for misunderstanding - I agree -

"... each signed language has its own rich and unique vocabulary, grammar
and syntax...and no one signed language is richer or better than another.  "

On the other hand - if mouthing should be as important in other SL as it
seems to be in DGS - I am wondering why other SW documents do not show too
many of facial expressions regarding mouth-gestures ..

In Germany we need to write a lot of facial expressions if you really want
to succeed to translate/understand the written signs -- Most of us are not
in that situation that we offer SW documents to persons and ask them to
write the translation down. Only in these cases you would understand how
difficult it may become to find your way through a unknown SW document -

My students at school  9th grade have become very skilled to translate long
SW documents - but if I would not add the facial expressions for
mouthmovements it is almost impossible to pick the exact German word that
has been associated with the signing performance .

What I am interested in is to learn about the individual interpretations of
mouth - gestures . As you can see on my website  I
decided to define the meaning of facial expressions (mouthing) This can not
be generalised to other spoken languages - - so there are spelling problems
ahead that are waiting for our answers

My students love to lipread these kinds of animated gifs- see attached gif
"boy and girl articulating "wie viele "  = how many
These mouthing studies are very helpfull to support to learn lipreading  and
German words

All the best

Stefan ;-)

----- Original Message -----
From: "Valerie Sutton" <Sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 6:24 PM
Subject: Sophistication of Sign Languages?

> 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
> think?...
> --
> Val ;-)
> Valerie Sutton
> Sutton at
> SignWritingSite
> Read & Write Sign Languages
> SignBankSite
> Sign Language Dictionaries
> DanceWritingSite
> Read & Write Dance
> MovementWritingSite
> 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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