[sw-l] SignWriter - feature "gloss" input method

Tomáš Klapka Tomas.Klapka at RUCE.CZ
Thu Jun 2 17:21:32 UTC 2005

Barbara Pennacchi wrote:

> On 31.05.05 11:56, Tomáš Klapka wrote:
>> My idea is to add one more method of input, "gloss" input method.
> I'm not talking about signpuddle specifically, I'm talking about the
> concept of "glossing" signs in general.
> I'm sorry, but after so many years of working side by side with sign
> language researchers and teachers, my opinion about the (ab)use of
> glosses  in almost any sign-related field is very very very very low.
> I *do* really wish we'd all start weaning ourselves from these. I do
> really want do wean myself, at least (grin)
> Glosses do not solve the problem of "rebuilding" in one's own mind a
> specific sign made by someone else, in absence of visually-supporting
> material. Glosses tend to add more ambiguity. Glosses do not help
> people  visualize the 4dimensionality of sign language.
> And how about the presence of multiple synonyms? Would glosses such
> as  "DROP" "LET-IT-FALL" "ABANDON" point to the same or to different
> signs?
> And how about using glosses from a strongly "gendered" language such
> as  spanish, french or italian (which don't have the neutral gender)
> for sign  language that tend instead to be genderless?
> Furthermore, in some cases, the use of glosses is suspected of
> influencing  non-deaf people into translating sentences from their own
> mono-dimensional  language into our 4dimensional language, word by
> word, before actually  signing the sentence.... (I'm being sarcastic
> here, folks)
> But this is only my opinion. And I'm having a real bad day here at
> work so  forgive me for my bluntness. Nothing personal here, ok?
> (BTW: it bugs me that Sign Puddle forces me to give a gloss to signs
> in  order to save 'em, but I know it is because of technical reasons
> --  "Unicode, where the heck art thou?")

Hi Barbara,

I don't take you the current input method. I mean my idea as an
*optional* method, which you can switch whenever you want. I think the
current input method is great, but I don't see a problem with adding
more features. I don't mean it as to replace the current input method. I
just think there is a possibility to optionally add data of SignBank to
SignWriter and SignBank together and have one more way of  input, which
works with SignBank database and inserts signs by name in SignBank.

I have no experience of use or abuse of glosses but as I said before -
there is a use for me.

I have just enrolled czech deaf studies here in Prague and I will study
these issues more.

I am not sure if I fully understand, but I can explain you something
(generaly about glosses and rather my point of view about glosses):

There in Czech sign language is sign DRINK which depends on what are you
drinking or what are you drinking from (and I think it is the same in ASL):
So we have different signs for drinking from a bottle, from palms, from
a cup or drinking alcohol. Well, I can have neutral sign DRINK, and then
DRINK_CUP... Or it could be named as DRINK(palms), DRINK(alcohol),...

Then there is a directionality of verbs... For example sign GIVE. Could

And there is possibility tu give numbers to persons and things:
"There was my father and my brother and father gave a present to my

Then I agree there are signs which cannot be named, because of variety
of the sign, or if you incorporate signs. So you simply can switch the
input method to the default and you can type it as you do it now.
And it could be difficult to write in glosses a description of some 3D
object or place, which is always easier in sign language and in spoken
languages you have to say lot of information, because of the
simultaneity of sign languages.

Glosses from a strongly "gendered" language... I don't see any problem
here. Who cares for genders if sign language is tending to be
genderless? ;o) It is just about naming signs, not about thinking about
the grammar of spoken language. Sign can have more names... GIVE_HIM and
GIVE_HER. Why not?

Then there are "specific" signs which you cannot translate into spoken
langage by a word or a sentence, because the meaning depends on the
Czech sign language has sign for something which is periodical, but the
exact meaning is little bit different if you use it for different things
or situations. Those signs could be typed by ordinary input method or it
could be named as for example SPEC_PERIODICAL where PERIODICAL is the
closest meaning to the specific sign or it can be lingvistic term for
this specific sign.

And there are many other problems with glosses, but all these problems
can be simply solved.

I can see the similarity with kanji (chinese-japanese) characters, which
you can type-in by more input methods. You can write it by choosing
radicals of the kanji sign which is more natural for chinese and
japanese people and there is a different input method - by typing
romanized form of those languages which is more natural for western people.

Finaly, I would like to ask users of SignWriting editors, how many keys
do you have to press and exactly what keys do you press, if you write
signs "HELLO", "NAME", "MY" ("Hello my name is ...")?

I'm just interested about the code and how long code it is. If I think
about it - the code is a gloss for the sign and it is "meaningless" -
glosses aren't made of words of a spoken language.
For example, keyboard code for a "face with smile" is "4sa". which
means, that if you write on the keyboard "4sa", it produces face with
smile ;)

Thank you.

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