[sw-l] Are We Going in the Wrong Direction?

Dan Parvaz dparvaz at MAC.COM
Fri Dec 10 21:34:22 UTC 2004

> But you have to distinguish the DOM from the XML (or SWML). Just because
> something isn't stored as XML doesn't mean you can't have a DOM.

I agree. It could be a simple string for data entry purposes, but the
internal data structure could easily be a tree. Heck, internally, we could
even have SWML, which begs the question: why a linear format at all? Why
not simply compress SWML?

> Don't forget that simple text matching algorithms (such as exact
> matches) are based on the storage format of the text.

I'm not likely to forget, since I do this for a living. :-) My contention
is that any interesting string search in a sign language is going to
require looking at elements where position and order are not givens.

And the _really_ interesting stuff... well, that's still going to be
worked on, no matter what the format is. So if you want to find all
instances of the ASL sign "GIVE", nothing is (pardon the pun) a given.
handshape, motion, loci... all are up for grabs. So the "GIVE" in the
sentence "She was about to give him the glass of water when the lights
went out", the handshape (C) loci (3rd person to 3rd person) and movement
(unrealized inceptive) are none of them part of the citation form for

> You can't reject an idea on the basis that it's complex to do things
> that are inherently complex.

But I'm not entirely sure that the idea itself buys me anything more.
Supposing we have these characte representations, such as
O74,143;$34,122;^74,123;s89,205. The characters have to have built-in some
information about rotation, orientation, etc. The SSS has some
intelligence in its organization that can easily have me select, e.g., all
open-palm handshapes. Or all handshapes with a single extended finger.
Could a character set do as much?

To steal a phrase, the easy things aren't necessarily easier, and the
harder things are possibly harder.

BTW, I like these little exchanges of ours... I hope they lead us both to
sharper ideas. :-)


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