Advantages of ASL GLoss for SignWriting

Charles Butler chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Mar 29 04:15:12 UTC 2004

I understand your query, sir, in reference to Chinese and Japanese printing system, both of which have sound systems which then are translated into "whole word" characters.  However, the presumption is based on SW as translating one language, ASL, not writing human movement, which is not based on any single sign language.  If I were to write "tree", I have the choice of at least 4 different movements depending on whether that is ASL, Chinese Sign Language, Japanese Sign Language, or some variants of Brazilian Sign Language.  A keyboarding system would have to be tied to a complete translation system of a current ASL to English Gloss rather than be a Chinese typewriter, for example, with 64 key strokes that can create any character, old as well as new.  SW is the same, it writes what my hands actually do.  Dictionaries can only help so far, new creation of signs that are direct sign language, without gloss, are needed.

If I write Libras or ASL, I write SW, not English gloss, as I want to write the language as it is, movements and handshapes, not an approximate translation system.  I would not write Russian in Roman letters, they divide sounds differently in the language.  The syllables "ch", "sh", "zh", or "ya" are all single letters in Cyrrilic.  I don't write English using "Spanish gloss" why should I write ASL using English gloss except for the accident of a schooling system which stresses oral rather than written language?

We have many choices both in keyboarding and in understanding.  "train zoon gone" is not quite the same as 'I lost my train of thought".  "Him no zero football captain" can be translated as "he is the best football captain" and several other variants.  I'd rather leave it alone in SW and learn ASL as a language by itself, and learn to think in ASL rather than in English, unless one is writing English, in which case, write English, not pidgin English, and write SW, not ASL gloss.

These are my preferences in truly learning a language for its own sake.

Charles Butler

Daniel Noelpp <d.noelpp at GMX.CH> wrote:
> SignWriter falls into this trap over and over, where people who
> have mastered languages like English with a long written tradition
> find it
> easier to use the dictionary function than to type signs from scratch,
> so
> they never learn to type and never pass it on to the native signers.
> Part of this is because the SignWriter typing system is difficult to
> master, but I think it would actually be better in the long run if the
> dictionary lookup function weren't included in SignWriter.
> -Angus B. Grieve-Smith
> Linguistics Department
> University of New Mexico
> grvsmth at
> grvsmth at

I would like to see how the Chinese and Japanese enter their symbols on
the computer. I found something about "input methods", and as I
understood it for Japanese, they enter the word as pronounced with
Latin letters and the input method displays the symbol or the symbols
and with a hit on Enter the symbol get pasted to the text. I am not
sure whether I understood this process fully but I think that
SignWriting should and can learn from Japanese and Chinese in this

Just my humble opinion.
Daniel Noelpp
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