AW: [sw-l] ESWS - European SW Symposium

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE
Thu Aug 4 19:34:43 UTC 2005

Hi Shane, 

what is this -- male and female variant of ISL ???????

Stefan ;-)

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] Im Auftrag von Shane Gilchrist
Ó hEorpa
Gesendet: Donnerstag, 4. August 2005 11:47
An: sw-l at
Betreff: RE: [sw-l] ESWS - European SW Symposium


Sometimes knowing more than one national sign language does help a lot - and
if one is a sign linguist in Europe, getting to know LSF (French Sign
Language) would be VERY USEFUL because most national sign languages in
Europe have started from LSF.

With my native NISL, I had to learn BSL (British) and at least 5 of its many
dialects, ISL (Irish) and its male variant, female variant and north
variant, ASL, fairly LSF and a bit of TID (Turkish), KSL (Kenyan) and a bit
of DGS (German), a bit of VGT (Flemish), a bit of LSFB (Franco-Belgian) and
a bit of NGT (Dutch) - I feel it is of some benefits to me as a Sign
Linguist - and that is how I got to know that NISL is a separate language
with a large amount of ASL, LSF, BSL and ISL inside it.

Many fluent signers DO find it easy to pick up signs - it’s the question of
keeping signs separate!!! :-o


From: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] On Behalf Of Charles Butler
Sent: 03 August 2005 18:24
To: sw-l at
Subject: Re: [sw-l] ESWS - European SW Symposium

Hi Geoffrey,
Charles Butler here.
I know the feeling of being overwhelmed at the task of doing anything in an
extra language, spoken or unspoken.  I am fluent in English, passably fluent
in ASL, can read Portuguese fairly well, and am beginning (at 52) to learn
Libras enough to transcribe it and compare it to ASL.
As a coordinator of Signed Language research, particularly a linguist, I
would suggest that you focus on coordination more than day-to-day
knowledge.  Helping to coordinate the various groups (such as the ESWS) with
other groups working in signed languages for Europe would be a doable task. 
Focusing on the linguistic need for documentation of the 63 languages will
be a task in itself.  You don't have to do the work alone, yours should be a
task of locating native users who would like to be involved in the
linguistic research, much as you would with any other spoken language.
Remember that Valerie Sutton (the inventor of our system) knows only one
Signed Language and that word by word (ASL).  She relies upon her Deaf
friends to translate, communicate, and converse on linguistic issues.  
She posted a recent article on Verb forms in ASL, but that was relying upon
other linguists work to show the differentiation between inflected forms of
a verb.  Such a comparison between two signed languages, such as British
Sign Language and Norwegian Sign Language (to name two) would be a task to
involve linguists in two separated linguistic bases, as compared to French
Sign Language and ASL (which incorporated major portions of it at its
Coordination is a way you could strongly help users of separate linguistic
communities to realize that their own communication skills are important in
preservation and history.  Helping to start, and fund, a linguistic endeavor
in the 63 currently used languages (and perhaps capturing the 7 moribund)
would be fascinating, I would think.
Does that help?
Charles Butler

Geoffrey Hunt <geoffrey_hunt at> wrote:
Stephan wrote and asked me to contribute my impressions of the European
SignWriting Symposium. I'm a little reluctant to do this, because I am
probably the least competent person to do it. Let me explain why...

I am a member of SIL International, an organisation that in one way or
another is associated with work in over 1,300 languages worldwide, almost
all of them spoken languages. For twelve years I worked in Ghana as a
linguist/translator and, since then, have mostly been involved with the use
of computers for language work, but always for spoken languages. Then, two
and a half years ago, my then boss asked me, as an additional task, to be
involved with coordinating work in sign languages for the SIL Eurasia Area
(the whole of Europe, the former Soviet Union and parts of Africa and west
Asia). I decided I needed to find out what he was ! talking about, so set
about gathering a list of all the sign languages for which I could find
details. For the Eurasia Area I have a list of 70 SLs, of which 7 are
extinct or nearly so. So which one of these 63 SLs should I attempt to
learn in my part-time role? At my late stage in life, it does not seem
practical to start learning any of them, because I could not do it well.
(Let me know what you think.) So you see why I feel particularly
unqualified to contribute.

One thing that does interest me is how computers could be used to serve the
Deaf community, either for use by the Deaf or for use by those working with
the Deaf. So I came to ESWS because I wanted to link up with those already
involved in writing such software. We in SIL are starting such software
development using the Python programming language, so it was particularly
useful to meet Lars, whose own development work is using Python.

The best thing about ESWS was meeting! the participants. Obviously, I could
not communicate with everyone, but I appreciated the general camaraderie. I
learnt a lot, particularly about SW and Deaf culture. And I made new
friends and look forward to meeting you at future events. A few of us tried
to decide on a sign for me, but it doesn't seem quite right, so perhaps I
will have to wait for another time.

Best wishes,

Geoffrey (Hunt)

-----Original Message-----
From: Stefan Wöhrmann [mailto:stefanwoehrmann at] 
Sent: 28 July 2005 22:38
To: 'Geoffrey_Hunt'
Subject: AW: [sw-l] ESWO

Hello Geoffrey, 

I am so happy to know you on the list - very welcome!!!
Of course - I will send some pictures -;-) 

Can you post your ideas , impressions, ?
What happened in your group from your point of view? 

I am very interested in any comment - just as we concluded at the end of the

Stefan ;-)

Just btw what was you! r name sign ? I forgot my notes in the restaurant. I
am sorry!

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