Advantages of ASL GLoss for SignWriting

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Mar 28 15:25:41 UTC 2004

SignWriting List
March 28, 2004

Dear SW List Members, Charles, Dan, and Stephen -
Thank you for your wonderful messages on this topic, and please know
that I am not ignoring the topic...In my case, I work with other
countries more than I do with ASL....I live in the US, but I work
internationally. I do not know the signed languages I write, so it
would be impossible for me to use a gloss-system that is based on the
spoken language of each country, since I don't know the spoken language
of the country! So writing from videotape directly in the movements of
the signed languages of the world, has been my way of showing the world
that it is indeed possible to write and type directly in the movements
of signed languages....Our writing of ASL has been done in two
ways....I personally always write ASL from videotapes of Deaf
signers...preferably native signers, to assure that we are really
recording true ASL. The other way we have produced written ASL
literature, is asking Deaf people themselves to write by hand, or type
by computer, directly in the movements of their language, with no
spoken language involved. I know that is a new idea, but there is no
reason why ASL glosses, and typing directly in signed languages, cannot
stand side-by-side. And in your case, Stephen, you are actually using
ASL glosses as a way to program, which is fascinating and please know I
am supportive of it, even though I know it requires knowledge of how to
ASL-gloss...A knowledge which I personally do not have.

This article on the web explains this better...I wrote it almost 20
years ago, and then later posted it on the web:

What is the Difference Between SignWriting and English Glosses?

ASL glossing is a unique cultural development in the Deaf Community in
the US and Canada, that does not necessarily exist in other countries.
The reason ASL glossing developed, was because there was no written
form for ASL years ago....and it was the only way the schools and
researchers could explain a language without a written form. So they
used words from the English language, to represent a visual
language...That was ok then, and it will probably continue for a few
more generations...but as SignWriting establishes that ASL is now a
written language, in time, it will only be natural to drop the ASL
glossing, since typing directly in any language, without a gloss, is
faster (for those who know how to type it)...

So Stephen...Keep doing your work...I think this is fascinating that
ASL gloss can be used to program, and I am sure it is a unique
contribution that cannot be repeated in other signed languages...

My only issue is with the concept of voting a definition down or
up...That has nothing to do with ASL gloss...I feel it creates stress
between people. No one person has a complete knowledge of any language.
And to be in a position, to vote someone down, because they do not use
the same glossing system, is not fair to anyone...The classic example
of this was my voting down Stephen's ASL gloss for HELP etc...and then
Stephen being surprised and questioning my English choice...If you had
no voting system, then there would be no problem at all...people would
give their feelings on definitions, without having to be negative
towards another person's choices...There are not just one definition to
anything in life - people always interpret things differently!

Every other feature on the PUDL site is great. It is only the voting
system that can be negative for some users...

So, now, out of courtesy to others, I must complete my comments on the
Belgian and Greek computer programs! And I look forward to continuing
to explore the fascinating PUDL site...

Val ;-)

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