[sw-l] SignWriting | Theoretical issues

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Feb 21 23:48:24 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
February 21, 2005

On Feb 21, 2005, at 1:56 PM, Anne van Rossum wrote:
> If people write in SignWriting notation using a kind of editor, how 
> can they input signs? Is there an application that uses a normal 
> QWERTY keyboard with sign(-feature)s assigned to letters? (I think of 
> e.g. coupling frequently used SignWriting units  to frequently used 
> letters.) Or do you only use mouse drag-and-drop events or translation 
> tools?

Here are some of the software programs developed for SignWriting since 

SignWriter for Apple //e and //c (1986-1988):  The original SignWriting 
computer program was written for the Apple //e and //c computers by 
Richard Gleaves, one of the developers of Apple Pascal, Modula 2 
computer language.

SignWriter DOS for MS-DOS (1988-today):  SignWriter for the Apple //c 
was ported over to MS-DOS in 1988. SignWriter DOS is still used today 
around the world on older computers running Windows 98 or ME. It does 
not run on Windows NT, 2000 or XP. To solve this problem, newer 
versions of SignWriter are under development. SignWriter is the first 
Sign-Language-Processing program in history, providing the ability to 
create long typed documents in the movements of signs. It also provides 
extensive Word-to-Sign dictionary features.

SignWriter Java (1999-Today):  SignWriter DOS could not be ported over 
to the new Java computer language back in 1996, so it was re-written 
from the ground up in Java, but SignWriter Java was never completed. 
Even so, it is downloaded for free on the internet anyway, and many 
people use it, because it can be used on modern operating systems, such 
as Mac OS X and all Windows. It will be replaced by SignWriter Tiger 
(see below), which is also a form of Java, in 2005 and is sorely 

SignWriter Tiger (2005 beta):  The SignWriter Java program is being 
re-built again, this time by German-Swiss Deaf programmer Daniel 
Noelpp. It is scheduled for beta testing in May, 2005. Daniel is 
programming in the newest version of Java, named Tiger. Hence, 
SignWriter Tiger will fix and improve the old 1999 program, plus add 
new features.

SignWriter Python (2005 beta): SignWriter is also being re-written  in 
the new Python computer language, by German programmer Lars Majewski, 
at the request of SignWriting teacher Stefan Woehrmann. Already, the 
old SignWriter DOS files can be viewed in any operating system, using 
the new SignWriter Python Document and Dictionary Viewer.

SW-Edit (2000-Today):  Created in Brazil by Rafael Piccin Torchelsen & 
Professor Antonio Carlos da Rocha Costa for the SIGN-Net Project in 
2000, the SW-Edit program is an editing tool for SignWriting. Drag and 
drop the symbols into an editing box. This creates signs in SWML.

SWML (1999 to Today):  There are four forms of SWML, the SignWriting 
Markup Language in the world:  SWML-UCPel: the original SWML Formats, 
SWML-D: for the Flemish Online Dictionary, SWML-S: for SignPuddle 
Online Dictionaries, and SWDB: for UCPel Linguistic SignWriting 

SignWriting TrueType Fonts (2000-Today):  There are three families of 
TrueType fonts with SignWriting symbols: The Sutton Fonts are 
Fingerspelling Fonts for 18 different countries, the Woehrmann Fonts 
include commonly-used signs in German Sign Language (DGS), and the 
Parkhurst Fonts were used to create the textbooks on SignWriting 
written in Spain, by Steve and Dianne Parkhurst, including their 
well-known book SignoEscritura. The symbols in the Parkhurst Fonts are 
specific to writing the Spanish Sign Language dialect of Madrid.

The Flemish Sign Language Dictionary on the web (2004 to Today) can be 
searched by words or by sign-symbols. Converts SignWriter DOS 
dictionary files automatically. Search for over 6,000 Flemish signs. An 
important feature is the ability to search for signs by handshape 
and/or contact symbols. This creates a two-way bilingual dictionary. 
Signs are created with SWML.

VSigns (2004 to Today) from Greece. Synthesis of Virtual Reality 
Animations from SWML using MPEG-4 Body Animation Parameters… Find a 
sign. Read it in SignWriting. Then click on an animated figure and see 
the sign move. VSigns generates VRML animation sequences from 
SignWriting, based on MPEG-4 Body Animation. The SignWriting of each 
sign is provided as input and is initially converted to SWML 
(SignWriting Markup Language).

Sign WebMessage (2004 to Today) from Brazil. SWM is a web-tool that 
enables communication either in Portuguese or in Brazilian Sign 
Language (Libras). In the messages, the signs can be written  in 
SignWriting in Libras and, optionally, their meaning in Portuguese.

SignPoster (2005 beta) from Great Britain. Programmer Sandy Fleming is 
developing a way to touch type SignWriting symbols, using a limited 
symbolset for one sign language.

SignWriting in Unicode is a project in discussion, at the Summer 
Institute of Linguistics, directed by Albert Bickford in Arizona, with 
the guidance of Unicode expert Michael Everson, in Dubin, Ireland, and 
Stuart Thiessen in the USA. The project is on hold until funding can be 
found. It will take several years to create  a Unicode for SignWriting, 
which will expand SignWriting’s use in other programs.

SignBank 2002-2004 Database Software in FileMaker Pro 5.0-6.0 from USA, 
by Valerie Sutton and Todd Duell. This groundbreaking multi-lingual 
database was designed to publish large SignWriting dictionaries sorted 
by Sign-Symbol-Sequence (the SSS), and provides the full SymbolBank, 
with all symbols in the entire SignWriting system. The International 
Movement Writing Alphabet (the IMWA) is every symbol for writing body 
movement and can be searched and studied through SignBank 2004. 
SignBank 2004 also provides Deaf children with illustrated 
dictionaries, and researchers a place to store their videoclips and 
foreign signs. Sophisticated linguistic searches make it possible to 
find all the signs with the same handshape, or all the signs with the 
same combination of symbols, or all the signs with the exact 
SignSpelling…and several other search routines. New search routines can 
be created on the fly. And the SignSpelling database is the first in 
history to give editors the chance to establish the sorting routines 
for their Sign-to-Word mulit-lingual dictionaries. There are 20 print 
formats, and a special linguistic area for adding definitions written 
in Sign Language, and a place to add animated SignWriting for children.

SignPuddle 2004-2005: Stephen Slevinski has brought SignWriting to the 
web with a series of web-based programs designed for the everyday 
user…including SignMail, for sending email in SignWriting,  
SignTranslate, for translating spoken language glosses to signs, and 
the now famous SignMaker, a way to create new SignWriting signs on the 
web by dragging and dropping symbols into a SignBox, and then saving 
them to the online SignPuddle dictionary. Anyone, even children, will 
find SignMaker easy enough to create their own signs online, and 
presto! Others can use their new signs immediately in email or in 
SignWriting documents, created by another program, SignText. 
Dictionaries can be edited by editors who are invited to review 
dictionary entries. And Stephen is working on another related program 
called SignType, which will allow SignMaker to work with keyboard 
strokes as well as with a mouse.

And now we are writing a grant to fund the new SignBank International 
Project, providing video and SignWriting from Web-to-Desktop...in 

Plus I know there are others, so if I have forgotten anyone, please 
forgive, and inform us of your new software!!! Val ;-)

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: text/enriched
Size: 8011 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/sw-l/attachments/20050221/0075ee69/attachment.bin>

More information about the Sw-l mailing list