[sw-l] Re: Thesis -- more than anecdotal

Trevor Jenkins trevor.jenkins at SUNEIDESIS.COM
Sat Feb 26 14:50:55 UTC 2005

On Sat, 26 Feb 2005, Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa <shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at fran...:

> We do need to develop a publicity or political lobbying group for that -
> another reason why I ll want to do the European conference on SW.

In the UK there is still much work to be done. Okay so HMG recognised
Britsh Sign Language as a minority language but where is the legal
protection for it as afforded to the even more minority language Welsh?
Shane et al's proposal for a European conference on SW will, I hope, be
seen as another advance in BSL achieving bi-lingual status perhaps as big
an advance as Stokoe's fundmental work on ASL was for all signed

(Shane I have to apologise because I do not know whether NISL is covered
by HMG's March 2003 recognition.)

> And there's so much misinformation about the Sutton System out there - there
> are 3 systems out there - the Sutton one, the Stokoe notation system and the
> HamNoSys - my friend, a linguist herself, think the Sutton system is the
> easiest one because it's quite "child-like and simple" YET SHE HAVENT TRIED
> IT HERSELF so she cannot be the expert on that but other linguists who
> ACTUALLY tried the 3 systems said that the Sutton System is more difficult
> to use for people whose first language isn't sign language whereas the
> Stokoe and HamNoSys are designed for people whose first language isn't a
> signed language.

Having spent considerable effort comparing SignWriting and Stokoe (and to
a lesser extent HamNosys) I know which I prefer: SignWriting. Obvious in
this context. This contradicts Shane's observation about second language
signers (*) preferring one of the others. For beginning BSL users Stokoe
notation is very confusing; it is baised by the ASL one-handed
fingerspelling alphabet. There are some occasions where I'd prefer to use
Stokoe over SignWriting! :-| Primarily in lexicography; there it seems to
me to be the equivalent of IPA for spoken languages. HamNoSys is higly
stylised in its symbolism. Some interpreters I know (for whom BSL is a
second language) prefer do HamNoSys.

It's been several months since finishing my comparison of SignWriting,
Stokoe and HamNoSys. My usage of all of them is irregular; probably less
than once a week. Because of that sparse usage my ability to read HamNoSys
has almost gone -- I can recognise it but that's about it --, Stokoe
requires I keep a lathund handy. Whereas reading SignWriting is easier and
clearer. I rarely use IPA yet on the few occasions when I need to know the
pronounciation of an English word there is little need for me to consult
the definitions.

(*) BSL is my third language after English and Swedish. :-)

> Right now, many European Sign linguists tend to go for HamNoSys cos it's a
> European thingy - there are some who will go for the Stokoe system - but
> even a smaller group go for it.

The other problem with Stokoe particularly for BSL is that Stokoe's
phonological basis of ASL was flawed. That flaw becomes a chasm with BSL.
A comparison of the ASL and BSL dictionaries should show how much is
missing from Stokoe notation when shoehorning BSL into that framework.

> That's why it's important for us to raise the profile of SignWriting ...


> ... - for instance the CDS Dublin at www.centrefordeafstudies.com

That site refuses all my attempts to contect. :-(

Regards, Trevor

<>< Re: deemed!

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