Sydney conference! HELP!!!!!!

Charles Butler chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Mar 26 22:30:21 UTC 2003

 Antony Daamen <adaamen at OPTUSNET.COM.AU> wrote:
Here you go Antony.  I'm a professional technical writer, this should help you in at least an outline form.  I have studied American Sign Language, English, Brazilian Sign Language, and Portuguese, and Sign Writing has helped me in all of them.  Several pilot projects in Brazil are showing great progress.
Charles R. Butler, III, B.A. Latin American Studies, University of Michigan, 1975.
Member of Sign Net Project, Catholic University of Pelotas, RG, Brazil, 2001-2003.
Co-author, with Marianne Stumpf, of bilingual dictionary in Portuguese & Brazilian sign language.  One of several editors of her translation of Sign Writing for Everyday Use into Portuguese and Libras (Brazilian Sign Language).
Your project sounds fascinating, I wish you luck in your presentations.
Charles Butler
   benefits to QDS: (help!)

Imagine being able to write your own thoughts in your own language.  Regardless of the primary language of one's country, if one's native language is not the language of commerce, one often misses being able to communicate one's own thoughts on paper to those not present.  Whether that language be English, Tagalog, or Australian Sign Language, each language has its own history, philosophy, and thought process.  Queensland Deaf Society has the opportunity to grow into a new form of literacy, as in thoughts on paper, written in Australian Sign Language.  While "sign language literacy" has often concentrated on being able to comprehend many different forms of signing (poetry, storytelling, conversation), what happens if the videotape doesn't work, or the person is not present.  With a written form of the language, history can be preserved for coming generations, even without technology.

   short history of writing hearing languages.

Spoken languages have been written since approximately 3,000 BCE, if one dates from Egyptian hieroglyphs, Sumerian cuneiform, and the beginnings of Chinese characters.  Each language chose a different way to approach "spoken language".  Egyptian heiroglyphs were a "rebus" .  The Aleph (which became the Roman letter A) was originally a picture of an ox "alef", whose first sound is that of "a".  Cuneiform was a true alphabet, with clusters of wedges representing specific sounds.  Chinese characters are whole words, not individual sounded out letters.  Each language, however, created a civilization using that writing form.  Chinese characters write more than 15 different (and mutually unintelligible) languages in China, all of whom read the same characters, though they pronounce them differently.  The Egyptian heiroglyphs merged with Phoenician to become the Greek, Roman, Ethiopian, Runic, and Russian alphabets, all of which are based on individual "letters" which reproduce single "sounds" in the language.  The
civilizations grew because they were able to write down the records of the day in recorded speech for those not physically present.  Newspapers, and even this email, are based on that concept.

   then introduce signwriting

Now imagine a language that hasn't had a written form, yet is used by thousands of people.  The language, however, isn't spoken by anyone, but signed.  How can one write such a language?  One needs an "alphabet of movement" to be able to record not only the languages of sign but of dance, mime, and other forms of communication that are based on body movement, not speech.

   history of signwriting

Sign Writing began with Dance Writing, an invention of Valerie Sutton in 1975, created to record the Danish ballet, before the choreography of aging dancers was lost forever.  While other linguists have created various forms of writing particular signed languages, Sign Writing's advantage is that it can write all signed languages, making it an "international phonetic alphabet" for signed languages.  It has been used in more than 20 countries, in educational projects primarily, and with good results.

   benefits of signwriting

Sign Writing has all the benefits of any other written language.  It can write a person's thoughts in their native signed language without translation into a spoken language.  It can record changes in signs over years.  Since 1975 there have been changes in various signed languages, and with a recording system, one can show both old signs, and new variants as the burgeoning Deaf community creates them.

One exciting advantage is that it often opens up a Deaf person's mind to the world of literature.  Once they recognize that "marks on paper" can record movement, it is much easier for them to understand that "marks on paper" can record spoken languages, and that they don't have to hear to read spoken languages.  Literacy in spoken languages is improved, and concepts can truly be explained comparing their native signed language to the primary spoken language in their environment, using examples in both languages.

Sign Writing enables teachers to write down the vocabulary set of their Deaf students, discovering whether they are learning-disabled, or simply can't hear.  With an unambiguous recording method, a teacher can list words and concepts that are currently in a child's vocabulary, just as they would with a hearing child.  Just because the concept is not known in English does not mean the concept is unknown to the child, just in a different language.

   FAQ's and their  answers:
       does it impede on learning hte host language (i.e. English)

Far from impeding learning spoken language, Sign Writing can enhance the process, by enabling understanding in both directions.  Deaf and Hearing persons can communicate freely across a linguistic barrier, ensuring that what is being communicated is real.  Current studies in English-speaking schools have shown excited school children happy to learn many "languages on paper".  Their comprehension is improved.

       more FAQs?
 Please be quick, so I can start...... Antony      ____________________________________________________
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