[SignWriting] Re: SignFont

Stuart Thiessen smt_sw at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Feb 16 19:53:40 UTC 2004

I agree that on the machine-readable/searchable front, SF had
potential. It grappled with the weaknesses of the Stokoe system and
improved on it in a different way. The hearing interpreter I mentioned
before used it to create a database of Thai Sign Language. The
challenge seems to be how it could allow for more detail when more
detail was needed.  The example I often use is that under SF, there is
no way to record the distinction between "DATE" and "DESSERT" in ASL.
That hearing interpreter didn't feel it was an important distinction
because context would tell the difference.  However, I am not sure it
is a good idea for the system to dictate what is an important
distinction. I think the system should allow for greater detail and
then consensus by the community of everyday users should become the
determining factor for what is needed or not needed. This is especially
important when you look for a writing system that can be used by other
sign languages than ASL.

I think that lack of extra level(s) of detail hurt SF's potential for
adoption. It may have merit as a phonemic linear representation of a
frozen sign that can be used as a machine-readable/searchable string,
but the lack of extra detail (in my mind) may restrict even that usage.
  (Not to mention that it does not appear to have any current advocates
apart from Sam Suppalla to my knowledge, and he only seemed to use it
as a transitional orthography instead of an everyday orthography).



On Feb 16, 2004, at 1:08 PM, Dan Parvaz wrote:

>>> <http://web.archive.org/web/20000902024005/http://members.home.net/
>>> dnewkirk/signfont/>
>> Whilst I could view the text allthe graphics are broken. :-(
> In fact, no linked objects (other than HTML files) are stored. I have
> the
> fonts on my machine at home. If you are interested, you could install
> them
> to look at the on-line glossaries. I also have hard copies of all old
> SF
> stuff (including the original Emerson & Stern handbook), so if you are
> really interested, I could make copies.
> I was intrigued by SF, which provided more granularity than the
> 'literal
> orthography,' but while I used it for transcription, some problems did
> crop up. It made writing the more richly-grounded material (e.g.,
> classifier predicates) a little tougher. While later verions of SF
> included some more "phonetic" detail, it remained both very schematic
> and
> language-specific, since it took knowledge of the signed language to
> 'fill
> in the details.' I was still reluctant to let it go because it was
> easily
> machine-readable and -searchable, and was a lot easier to handle than
> HamNoSys.
> Cheers,
> Dan.

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