Surface symbols

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Dec 15 15:15:47 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
December 15, 2005

Cherie from Georgia, USA wrote:
> hello, newbie Cherie here....  I am slowly working my way thru the  
> e-lessons, and came to one on the surface symbols.  While working  
> on a document recently, I needed the sign for 'English', and all of  
> the ones (I think there were two or three) in the signPuddle were  
> very hard to read because the symbols overlapped... would that be a  
> case where you would use the surface symbol?

Hello Cherie and Everyone!
You are right that the sign for English, in ASL, is a hard one to  
write. In the late 1980's to mid-1990's I worked with a group of  
native-ASL signers, called the DAC (Deaf Action Committee For  
SignWriting), and that old SignSpelling of the ASL sign for ENGLISH  
was their choice. And although I can see it must be hard for  
newcomers, I personally got used to the old SignSpelling...the  
writing became normal to me because I saw it so often...SignSpellings  
are funny that way....We can work long on how to write something, and  
after awhile you get used to one spelling and reading it stops being  
a problem...

Yes. We do have Surface Symbols and they are used occasionally, in  
hard-to-write cases. But we try not to use them when possible, since  
everyday reading, for Deaf children, goes smoother without them. They  
are more abstract....

But the one thing that your new writing misses, is the need for the  
Grasp is a Plus sign...that symbol is necessary to read  
the sign for ENGLISH (for me at least) because it means that one hand  
is grasping or holding the other...

Anyway, I just went into SignPuddle and added a fourth version  
showing another way to show the hands relating to each  
here are all four first two signs are actually  
different signs...The first one moves back toward the chest, and not  
down...The second one the right hand moves down twice...but I could  
re-enter those with the new hand configuration if you wish, that I  
entered in version 4...

Although I can read the old SignSpellings, the fourth one I just  
entered is a little easier to read for me are welcome to  
experiment with new SignSpellings and add them to the SignPuddle. I  
look forward to your response!  Val ;-)

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