hello, handwriting, and 2 ?s about SW for mouth/head movement

Nancy E Emery nemery at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Thu Dec 4 01:56:50 UTC 2003

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this list so I want to introduce myself and say hello.  My name
is Nancy Emery, I'm a graduate student in linguistics (hearing), at the
University of Washington in Seattle in the US. I got interested in
SignWriting recently becuase I'm interested in classifiers (in signed and
also in spoken languages), and I wanted a way to transcribe signed stories
and narratives that gave an integrated, visual sense of the language.  (I
studied ASL and interpreting previously, and especially love the creative
aspects of ASL narrative.)

I've started by trying to teach myself to write SIgnWriting by hand -
partly becuase I'm slow getting anything up on a computer :) and partly
because I figured that with new classifier constructions I'd have to
create my own version of the signs anyhow.  It's been a very interesting
process and it's made me have to be a lot more analytic about how signs
are really made - what joint is bending, etc.  (Trying to analyze what
happens when you snap your fingers for "dog" in ASL took me quite awhile!)
Whereas when I looked at the first examples of SignWriting I saw, of
Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, a lot of it I could read with little or no
instruction - knowing the story and the signs, I could fit the signs to the
signwriting.  I'm guessing it's the same for a lot of deaf schoolkids.
(Best wishes to all you dedicated teachers!)  It's a little like my
experience trying to learn Chinese characters - much
easier to read in context than to write from memory.  (And I hear that
even in China and Taiwan, people are forgetting how to write some
characters becuase they're more used to picking them out on the computer.)
But SignWriting is MUCH easier than Chinese writing, which is all

I have a couple of questions about how to write head turns and mouth
movements.  I'm trying to show that the signer is turning his head from
one side to the other as he follows something going by.  I only need one
sign for the thing going by - but how best to show the head turn and eye
gaze following?  Right now I have three faces - one turned to the right,
one facing central, one turned to left - connected with a unit line to the
handshape.  The direction of the face is shown by nose position, head tilt
on shoulder line, and eye gaze.  Any other ideas?

Also I want to show that when the signer shows someone moving along with a
bouncing movement, he's opening and closing his lips with each bounce as
though saying buh-buh-buh.  Any ideas?


Nancy Emery

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