[sw-l] 75 symbols in ASL
sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Jun 23 14:17:30 UTC 2005
June 23, 2005
Very interesting points, Charles - Glad you had the rare handshape
you needed in the IMWA ...Val ;-)
On Jun 22, 2005, at 4:09 AM, Charles Butler wrote:
I just added this word to the ASL SignPuddle for "open newspaper". I
pulled it from Goldilocks and the Three Bears as I'm not sure that
all the words in Goldilocks have been systematically added to
SignPuddle. Until we have a good translation program from whatever
Goldilocks and the other stories are set in, moving all signs over at
once will be a challenge.
By the current frequency chart, there are 75 symbols being used in
ASL, though with a few, we'd really have to have a strong consensus
that in fact they are used by more than single individuals (several
are from name signs).
We definitely should feel like Noah Webster.
An additional note. Working in two signed languages (ASL & Libras),
I often look at one language or the other to see if the other
language has the same handshape being used, even in different words.
Two handshapes from the seminal work of the SignNet Project in Porto
Alegre and Pelotas, Brazil while I was working there with Marianne
Stumpf come to mind.
This is the sign for "noiva" (fiancee) in Libras. The right hand
ring finger is held up by the thumb to display an engagement ring.
This is a "single instance" use of this handshape in all the current
research in Libras which was discovered by the SignNet Project team
in Porto Alegre in the process of translating "SignWriting for
Everyday Use" into Brazilian Portuguese with Libras examples which I
had the honor to edit.
The second handshape is the "carroça" handshape, which I found by
inquiry quite by accident. In most major cities of Brazil there are
still horse-drawn carts and carriages (carroça). I asked what the
sign was for the cart, and this was the sign that was given.
As this handshape had not yet been used in the Libras examples, I was
rather pleased that I had been a part of the team when it was folded
into the workbook.
I want to make a practice of carrying 3x5 cards to record ASL and
Libras examples to ensure that our Puddle Dictionaries are always
Well wishes to all.
Charles Butler <chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM> wrote:
Comment on .lojban.
The difficulty I have with lojban, having actually
looked into it as an artificial language construct, is
that it uses punctuation marks as letters, so it
actually looks ugly on the page. When every five
letters or so is a "." being used as a schwa or an "h"
it is really jarring. Far from being something I would
easily use and learn, as some fewer than 1,000 people
are fluent in the language, it fails for me because it
fails aesthetically. Korean, in contrast, created an
alphabet from pictures that come out resembling
Chinese characters from a distance but looking
entirely different as a featural alphabet when
examined. IMVHO, art must be a part of an alphabet,
or it's going to repel rather than attract.
--- Steve Slevinski wrote:
> Hi Stuart,
> I appreciate your opinion and point of view. This is
> one of the great
> features of SignWriting. It is a big tent idea. Val
> has invited us all
> to come in and play around. It is a process of
> discovery. Different
> perspectives help us learn and grow. I only hope
> that I do more good
> than harm.
> I understand that linguists need special terms. They
> need to analyze and
> discuss and argue about what is happening in
> language. I didn't mean to
> imply that specialized jargon should be thrown out.
> Upon reflection, my email was about talking to
> various audiences that
> need to learn more about sign language in general
> and SignWriting in
> The primary audience I'm concerned about is native
> signers. We need to
> encourage native signers to learn about SignWriting
> and to ! start
> writing. I'm hoping that I can convince native
> signers to write lengthy
> documents using SignPuddle 2 (when it's ready). If
> they do, SignPuddle
> will prove the superiority of SignWriting for all
> time and it will be
> embraced by Deaf culture. I say that because
> SignPuddle will not tell
> Deaf what sign language is, it will show Deaf how
> sign language is
> written by Deaf writers. The ASL hand-shape alphabet
> has 74 symbols not
> because of my authority, but because that's the
> symbols that writers are
> using. SignPuddle is about reflecting language, not
> dictating language.
> The secondary audience (for me anyway) is people
> with deep pockets.
> Philanthropy is very scarce for sign language
> projects. Even more scarce
> for SignWriting projects. Small grants are a problem
> for most projects
> that ! I know of. There's not enough to go around.
> For people with deep pockets, you have about 1
> minute to generate
> sufficient interest so that they take the time to
> consider your
> proposition. Realistically, you have about 10
> seconds to get them
> interested enough to listen to the next 50 seconds
> Neither of these audience is interested in the
> technical jargon of
> programmers or linguists. If you use words they
> don't immediately
> understand, you've lost their interest. I'm sure you
> could create an
> hour long presentation about the value of sign
> language and the
> importance of SignWriting, but if you confuse them
> with jargon and don't
> immediately capture their interest, you will be
> wasting your time and
> And I'm still upset about the spoken language bias
> inh! erent in most
> languages. Even the artificial language "Lojban" has
> a bias against
> signed languages. And the funny thing is that Lojban
> was created to
> eliminate cultural bias from language and test a
> variation of the
> Sapir-Worf hypothesis. However, Lojban is still in
> development so I need
> to have a chat with the organizing committee. I'll
> tell you how it goes
> Stuart Thiessen wrote:
> > Hi Steve!
> > I understand what you are trying to express.
> However, like any field
> > of expertise, it contains technical terms to help
> the specialists of
> > the field understand exactly what they mean.
> Computer programmers have
> > their technical jargon, and so do linguists. I
> don't agree that we
> > need to throw out all the technical terms to
> "reduce bias." If one
> > reviews the research being done in sign languages,
> it is easily
> > apparent that there is a lot to learn about our
> ability to learn
> > language through either modality (speech or sign).
> > Also, like any specialists, we need to consider
> our audience and the
> > purpose of our discussion. If we are discussing
> the proper linguistic
> > definition of some aspect of sign languages, we
> should use the proper
> > terms. If we are only have a "lay" discussion of
> the topic, then using
> > "lay" terms is appropriate.
> > In my case, I prefer the technical term "featural"
> to describe what
> > kind of writing system SignWriting is. To me, it
> is the most accurate
> > term available for the writing system. For "lay"
> terms, an alphabet
> &g! t; may be one way to describe it, but it is not
> necessarily the best
> > technical term. If we explain the terms then it
> has meaning. For
> > hearing, once they know that the Korean writing
> system is similiar in
> > approach as SignWriting (because the symbols in
> the Korean system
> > correspond with how the sounds are produced), then
> that helps them to
> > see that SW isn't so strange after all. For ASL
> deaf, I tend to point
> > out some of the non-manual markers we tend to use
> in our
> > conversations. I explain how those can be included
> in our writing ...
> > oh, yeah and by the way, we can write the signs
> clearly too ;) . Most
> > alphabets, syllabaries, abjads, etc. are symbols
> that represent the
> > final product of the articulators. SignWriting
> goes one level deeper
> > and actually! shows the articulators in motion (in
> a manner of
> > speaking). So does Korean as I understand it or at
> least that is the
> > closest analogy we have from spoken languages.
> > I'm less inclined to "throw out the technical
> terms". I think it is
> > better for us to help clarify the terms and
> illustrate where sign
> > languages are similar or different than spoken
> languages. Over time,
> > the bias will disappear. If one studies the
> professional literature on
> > sign languages, then it is next to impossible that
> they can truly
> > retain the bias against sign languages. And if
> they have the bias
> > anyway, changing the wiktionary isn't going to do
> a whole lot to
> > change things in my opinion. Personally, the more
> we use SignWriting
> > to describe sign languages and the linguistic
> properties of sign
> > languages _and_ to develop literature in our sign
> languages, the more
> > people will begin to see the value of both sign
> languages in general
> > and SignWriting as a system to record sign
> languages. When they see
> > our professional discussions of the terms, then
> they will be more
> > inclined to listen because we are pointing out
> clarifications in how
> > they use their terms rather than simply throwing
> out the words because
> > we don't like the meaning they attach to those
> technical terms.
> > But again that's my opinion. ;)
> > Stuart
> > On Jun 21, 2005, at 18:53, Steve Slevinski wrote:
> > Hi all,
> > I love the term IMWA for many reasons. I'm a
> self proclaimed IMWA
> > snob.! The IMWA is a true alphabet even though
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