[sw-l] Vertical and Horizontal Writing, Sign-Poetry

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Fri Dec 10 07:49:56 UTC 2004

Stephen Slevinski wrote:

> Lanes are not an unnecessary complication. Lanes can add a richness and
> ...

and Val replied:

> I agree.... Native signers skilled in SignWriting, were the ones who
> requested Expressive writing in vertical columns with
> Sign Language Dictionaries

I agree that lanes are necessary (though I think there is finer body
shifting in sign languages than the current three or five lane provisions
allow for), but the problem is with the technical solution chosen. There's
no need to store lane information in the user's document, the symbol
position is enough. Otherwise the programmers will run into technical
challenges with having to do special processing to allow for lanes all the

Lanes should be implemented in the user interface as a facility for
positioning signs. But the lane information shouldn't be stored in the
users' documents.

I can see that for Stephen this doesn't matter because he's using SWML for
output and SMWL is already an unnecessary complication as far as document
storage goes (although as I said, for a dictionary application it's probably
the best solution).

> I believe using oral-processing word processors is wishful thinking. The
> differences between linear langauge and spatial language, for data entry
> display, is too vast....

No, they can both be expressed as strings of characters from their
respective fonts - they're essentioally the same.

I hope I don't sound like I'm disparaging anybody's work! I'm not
criticising SWML for many applications - it's an excellent idea. But to
carry SWML over from dictionary applications to text applications might be
something we want to avoid.

I also realise that it's time to write a "proof of concept" thing, but I
still think it's important to say this now for any programmers who may be
starting out on something and think that they're supposed to use SWML as
standard, the way I thought I was supposed to use the IMWA as standard.

I'm appealing for simplicity in document storage, rather than adding a new
feature to document storage for every sign language feature we can think of
(such as lanes).


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