[sw-l] SignWriting | Theoretical issues

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Feb 21 23:31:40 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
February 21, 2005

On Feb 21, 2005, at 1:56 PM, Anne van Rossum wrote:
> .....As last introductionary remark I want to state that I am studying
> an iconic language, not a "pictographic" language. I am well aware of
> the impossibilities involved in such a language. My approach regards
> languages as VIL.
>  I hope you can help me with providing theoretical background
> information about the SignWriting project. I'd appreciate that very
> much.

Hello Andy!
I am sorry I did not realize your name was Andy...I thought it was Anne
because of the email address...I will be happy to answer your
questions..I hope others on the SignWriting List will jump in and give
their two cents too!!

> Andy asked....
> What is the lexicon size of a 'common' sign language (say ASL) that is
> notated by SignWriting? What is the dictionary size of ASL if notated
> by SignWriting?

Do you mean...
How many signs are there in American Sign Language?

My answer...probably as many signs in ASL as words in spoken languages.
Sign Languages all over the world prove to be beautiful rich languages
as sophisticated as any spoken language, and native-signers born into a
Sign Language as their first language have large vocabularies in Sign
Language...so I don't think there is much of a difference with the
amount of vocabulary...I assume that Sign Languages have large

How many signs have we already written in American Sign Language?

My answer...ASL is only one of 28 Sign Languages we are writing now. In
the American Sign Language online dictionary, we have around 3,300
signs...Go look at them...

American Sign Language Online Dictionary

The German Sign Language Dictionary, in SignWriter DOS, has over 10,000

And the Flemish Online Dictionary in SignWriting has 6,000 entries...Go


So the dictionaries have not caught up with writing all the vocabulary
yet, but they will in time. The largest dictionary I know of right now
is the German one...over 10,000...

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at SignWriting.org

1. SignWritingSite
Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBankSite
Sign Language Dictionaries

3. DanceWritingSite
Read & Write Dance

4. MovementWritingSite
Read & Write Movement & Gesture

5. SymbolBank On The Web
Archive For All Symbols

6. SIGNMAIL: Send SignWriting Email

Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
tel: 858-456-0098....fax: 858-456-0020
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