Typing BSL Fingerspelling

Sandy Fleming sandy at FLEIMIN.DEMON.CO.UK
Sun Feb 29 20:49:20 UTC 2004

Hi Ingvild and everyone!

Ingvild Roald wrote:

> This is interesting. Did you know that we have an old Norwegian two-handed
> fingerspelling system that is a lot like the British, exept for the
> wovels? I suspect this is because we have more than just the normal 5
> wovels ... . I first learnt this from my hearing mother, who had used it
> in school with her hearing classmates, to be able to chat without the
> teacher hearing them. So when I first met deaf students, I was amazed that
> I already knew their fingerspelling! It was not exatly the same, but very
> much alike ...

It would be interesting to see this system, if you can find the time to
write it. It seems to me that there must have been some sort of historical
contact between British and Norwegian deaf, but I wonder what it was
exactly? If you do manage to write the system down and post it, I'd like to
put it on a European Lowlands linguistics mailing list I'm on and see if
anyone there knows what the historical connection might have been.

I've just written out the SignWriting for the six letters I think need to be
refined in the BSL fingerspelling system as done by Val for the keyboard.
This is handwritten (well, "block letters"!) at the moment. I think this is
going to be the pattern for me - a website with two boxes for each sign -
one handwritten and then one done with software, the software lagging behind
the handwritten versions. I find the software, at least in its present form,
too distracting from the work of actually designing the signs. In the end I
decided that it's not a bad thing that people understand that it can be just
as practical to write or even sketch signs, and that they don't _have_ to
download and learn software to get on with things.

Any comments on these six letters would be much appreciated. The most
difficult thing was where to put the right hand without obscuring the left -
so it's not entirely consistent in placement, but it wouldn't be so in
actual signing anyway. I hope these aren't too bad - I've noticed that my
SignWriting has gotten a little rusty!

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