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

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri Dec 5 21:05:01 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
December 5, 2003

Nancy E Emery wrote:
> (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
> memorization!

Dear SW List, and Nancy!
Welcome to the SW List, Nancy, and thank you for your excellent
message...I think you will find that writing classifiers is really fun
in SignWriting. Most of the handshapes you will need, are in the
computer software, but it is true that some of the small tiny degrees
of opening fingers and closing fingers that are needed visually, to
write classifiers properly, are not in the computerized symbol sets
yet, so some of those are still written by hand, after the typing is
printed out... SignWriting began as a handwriting and was computerized
over a decade later, after everyone was writing by hand...so the
computer software still has to play catch-up with all the handwriting
developments...The programmers right now are working so hard to solve
all these issues, but it will take time, because SignWriting is not
easy to program.

Someday we will benefit from a computer program that can manipulate the
fingers of each handshape to open the fingers or close them just a
little bit one direction or the other, either by using the mouse to
open or close the fingers of a given handshape, or a keystroke that
would open or close an increment at a time...and the same with sizes of
movement arrows and circles...sometimes they need to be very tiny and
sometimes larger...oftentimes connected to writing classifiers and
other descriptive signs that really show the size of something...So the
handwriting is easier right now, for those kinds of issues...We
developed something called "Variations" in the computer software, to
handle these issues, but then they have never been implemented, because
I never got to creating the incremental openings and closings in the
symbol sets...

I know Ingvild in Norway has requested different sizes of
movement-circle symbols, and we even could use different size
handshapes within the same typing size...In DanceWriting, which is
related to SignWriting, we make the symbols "closer to the reader" a
little larger, and as the symbol travels "away from the reader", it
gets smaller and smaller...the idea of depth written with size really
works, but because of the limitations of computers, we have actually
lost some of that from our history...I want to bring that back now,
through sss-2004. That stands for Sign-Symbol-Sequence 2004, and it
will be available in two databases...SignBank for Research Use, due in
March, 2004, and also a web database...the beginnings of that web
database are already in use, although it does not include all the
symbols yet. You might want to take a look:

SymbolBank Web Database (beginnings of it)

Right now I am going through all my old notes of requests from users
for new symbols...there are over 170 new handshapes requested alone,
from around 20 countries...These symbols are written by hand with no
problem, if you have the patience to write by hand...and I will try to
add all of them to sss-2004 if I can...

So your comment above, about how Chinese people are not writing by hand
as much now, is interesting...Computers are wonderful tools. I know I
don't write English by hand very well any longer myself, because I am
always typing by computer...and my 15 year-old nephew is a really fast
typist because he is Instant Messaging all his school friends through
email...so maybe handwriting is becoming less important, as computers
improve? A thought for today......;-)

Nancy, I will try to answer your technical question next message...

Welcome once again!

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at SignWriting.org

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