[sw-l] left-handed or right-handed?

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Mon Dec 6 15:47:22 UTC 2004

Hi Val and List!

>> But policies are established by the Editors of different dictionaries and
I no longer worry about this issue...I personally don't care very much about
left and right handed signs...I read SignWriting for the dominant and
non-dominant hands and I don't notice if they are left or right handed signs
most of the time, just as I wouldn't if someone was signing to me... <<

Though not a left-hander, this kind of sets alarm bells ringing for me.
While left-handedness may be virtually unnoticeable in actual signing, it's
a different matter in classes of sign-language learners. I have no
experience of teaching children but this makes me wonder if a left-handed
Deaf child would be discriminated against quite severely if having to learn
their first writing system from a right-handed dictionary.

I think that it would be a mistake to ignore the problem - what do teachers
of SW to Deaf children think?

As for the problem of creating a dual-handedness dictionary, the obvious way
to me, is to use the SWML variants system I proposed some time ago.

You may remember that I explained a straightforward modification to SWML to
allow large numbers of variants of a sign to be expressed with very little
SWML. The left-handed version of a sign could simply be treated as a variant
of the right-handed version. We could write the dictionary (and if required,
word processing) software so that it can give the user the left-handed form
of the sign if he has chosen this as a setting. Dictionary signs often don't
have location informaton so that a lot of them wouldn't need to have a
variatn expression - in the absence of a variant the software could simply
provide a mirror-image of the stored sign. Of course, mirroring could also
be used with locational signs - it's logical and would reduce the amount
information required to express the variant.

Val, I know you prefer to think visually but I'd suggest you learn to read
SWML - it's not that hard and would help you to understand the potential of
the system when used with variants. I really feel that people are missing
something important here.


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