[sw-l] SignWriting | Theoretical issues

Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa rocha at ATLAS.UCPEL.TCHE.BR
Tue Feb 22 18:05:15 UTC 2005


   A few comments and tentative answers to some of your questions:

 > SignWriting & corresponding issues with an iconic language
 > What I would like to know are the problems that we'll encounter with
 > writing an iconic language:

   It seems that sign languages are not strictly iconic languages:
iconicity is part of sign languages, but does not respond for all of
their features. SignWriting, on the other hand, is a phonetic notation
(aiming to become phonemic, it seems).

   So, the theoretical point here, I guess, is about the possibility of
a phonetic/phonemic notation being capable of expressing iconic features.

 >     * What is the lexicon size of a 'common' sign language (say ASL)
 >       that is notated by SignWriting?

   In principle, any sign of any sign language can be represented in SW.

 >     * If people write in SignWriting notation using a kind of editor,
 >       how can they input signs?

   Signs are entered symbol by symbol.

 >     * Notating a (sign) language does most often also lead to
 >       classification of the concepts in that very language. Did the
 >       scientists behind the SignWriting project classify, did they use
 >       some kind of conceptual hierarchy? Or was this hierarchy
 >       automatically derived from the 'natural sign language' and had
 >       the experts nothing to do with classifying the language itself?
 >       (I think classifying is necessary if there exist a SignWriting
 >       editor, people should chose gestures / concepts easily from a
 >       library / dictionary)

   I think that the concepts you mention are realized in SW in the set
of symbols with which signs are written. The symbols are classified
according to the phonetic features they represent.

   That is, the concepts involved in SW are linguistic, or at least
movement related, for that matter.

   But of course, this is a personal view of the issues you raised.

   All the best,

   Antônio Carlos

Antônio Carlos da Rocha Costa
Escola de Informática - UCPel

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