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

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Dec 6 17:03:18 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
December 6, 2004

Hello Everyone -
No alarm bells are necessary...smile...I am not a teacher of sign
language or deaf children, and I never plan to become one! The teachers
in Belgium, for example, will choose what is best for them, when it
comes to the issues of right and left handed signing...

I only teach the symbols themselves, and how to apply them to writing
SignSpellings ... I am not a linguist as you know...I think the issue
of left and right handed signing is actually a linguistic issue, and a
social issue too, because some left handed signers are really upset if
they cannot write the way they sign...

SignWriting can be used in hundreds of ways, and please feel free to
teach as you wish...

For me personally, when it comes to writing Deaf storytelling, I find I
need to be able to write left-handed signs too...but that is just
me...and my neutrality does not mean you have to be neutral...

Val ;-)


On Dec 6, 2004, at 7:47 AM, Sandy Fleming wrote:

> 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.
> Sandy

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