AW: Greek Finger spelling Posted

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Sun Feb 29 07:29:04 UTC 2004

Hello Adam, and list!

Adam wrote:

> that you were going to post that infomation. That is just great!!
> The reason
> is because in my math class, we use many Greek letters. I have
> made up some
> signs for some of them, but I was wondering how deaf in Greece sign them.
> So, if someone could explain theta, I would really appreciate it. :-)

This was my first thought too when I saw the Greek fingerpelling - "Wow, a
proper sign for pi and everything!". Yet one more reason why a written form
for sign languages is important - it makes it possible to borrow
cross-cultural forms without some signer having to actually go to Greece and
then sign them over to everybody when they get home again (and then of
course, everything is eventually lost again as people forget). This is why
my first interest in SignWriting was in compiling a list of British towns -
here nobody knows a town name unless they've met someone who's met someone
who's lived in the locality, or something like that. With SignWriting these
hurdles are completely run into the ground.

Of course the problem is actually finding the information - which is why my
"towns" project ground to a halt - I only know a few BSL signs for those
towns that people I've met happen to know the signs for. But as SignWriting
becomes established, more people can contribute and soon after that most of
the available signs will automatically become known, or even all of them.

Yesterday I went to a Deaf Arts Conference in Bournemouth, UK with some
other people from my BSL class (no, I'm a learner, not the teacher!). The
artists/speakers went into all sorts of things - painting/sculpture/theatre.
As a writer I was only too painfully aware that the art of writing was
missing. But of course it was missing - nobody here writes sign language! I
thought of asking a question during question time, but I decided that it was
quite a big thing to bring up and needed to be properly thought through. In
particular, I didn't want to bring it up without some effective examples of
it, and I really need to think of something that would have immediate visual
impact. Something I'm thinking of this morning would be a map of the UK with
cities and some towns marked in BSL SignWriting instead of English, so that
people could immediately grasp what it was they were looking at. It seems a
good idea to me, what do others think? And what other ideas do people have
for immediately getting across the idea that "this is writing, and it's
actually practical"?

There were a few poems presented at the conference, though performed. Some
knowledge of SignWriting made it possible for me to cast a more critical eye
over these - some couldn't have been written down without spilling over into
DanceWriting, so could better be classified as a mixture of mime and BSL
rather than "BSL Poetry". However, they also showed a video of "Loss" (based
on an earlier poem called "Motherland" - but how stupid to change from a
good title to a poor one!). This was a really good piece which would be
fantastic to write down, but involved lots of fast sequences of aeroplanes
accelerating down the runway, dogfights, cloud cover, flames and explosions,
and is well beyond my SignWriting ability at the moment! It did make correct
use of the signing space however, so was what I would actually expect of a
BSL poem. Also it's well known in the UK from the video (I'd seen it before)
so a written version would also be something that many signers in the UK
would be able to immediately appreciate.

Anyway, between that and the Greek fingerspelling recently posted it's all
been very inspiring and I think I'll make time out from my other projects
and _will_ start writing this BSL dictionary! One thing that can be said in
favour of the slow start is that I've gradually developed a better plan for
building it up than I would have had if I'd just plunged into it.

Hey Val - I just saw "Modern Times" (the Charlie Chaplin film) on DVD - do
you ever put things like his performance in the nightclub into DanceWriting?
Have you put the Charlie Chaplin walk (including cane!) into DanceWriting?


More information about the Sw-l mailing list