[sw-l] Mundbilder in GebaerdenSchrift - German branch of SignWriting

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE
Fri Jun 3 17:08:16 UTC 2005

Hello Antony and listmembers, 

thank  you so much for your input. I really love to read your comment and
your ideas are very, very welcome to make up my mind, to try to figure out
what I am doing, to understand that something is difficult to understand if
people come from a different background. 

You know what – I made a print-out of your two messages regarding
“Mundbilder” within SW- documents. And I still try to find out a way to
explain .... myself. (smile) 

SignWriting is a most welcome powerful tool in teaching deaf children from
age 2-3 on!!! 

More of that I am convinced that even hearing babies would love to play
around with SW-memory cards and toys and picture- dictionaries and so forth.

Now – when we meet deaf children with a sad first phase of their lives –
coming from a hearing background, struggling in a world of not knowing how
to express their needs, feelings, - not knowing anything about spoken
language and grammar, not knowing basic knowledge about SL – well these
children do have a very hard time to start school – 

Their hearing peers are much, much better of – and I bet that here and there
a little deaf child gets a label of learning disabled just because the
adults missed to support this kids with a functioning communication system. 

Now – these deaf children are in bad need for a communication system – the
best would be to strengthen their dialogic competence as quick as possible
using Sign Language. 

Afterwards you may want to add the first “foreign  language” which is the
spoken language of their region – 

In my classroom – as you might know – the little deaf children came at age 7
with no communication skills whatsoever!!  ( This is hard to believe) There
family background ( language ) has not been German, but several foreign
countries – so their parents are not even able to communicate in German !
Now these children are expected to follow the same curriculum that has been
worked out for their hearing peers.

Unless I started to translate tons of papers there has not been any
different book or written material – so they go the same book for
mathematics, German ... That has been ridiculous and I felt pretty much

So there is a major problem. without any strong language background these
deaf !!! children are expected to learn contents in a spoken language which
has been of no advantage in the past for them. 

Starting articulation, German vocabulary, grammar ... I understood that they
are very confused by all these different languages – 

Within the past five years we have started from the ground – so there must
be something very valuable in this concept with SignWriting as the keystone.

Interestingly I write more and more Mundbilder for the purpose of learning
new vocabulary! So if I ask the students to show there competence in
translating a signed sentence – they are much better of, if they can look at
the Mundbilder!!  As soon as they are aware of the meaning, or different
meanings of a sign I can write less of them. But nevertheless – and this
seems to be a problem to understand – in Germany we can observe a signing
style – that goes along with a lot of Mundbilder – just as borrowing
additional markers from the oral language in order to make it more easy to
identify a sign. 

>From time to time a make a joke. I hide under a bag and sign to my students.
Now they cannot see any facial expression but just my hands. And you are
right! Most of the time They identify this signing without any problem!!!
But it is concentrated on some easy to understand concepts, often used
questions, well known names ... 

I do not know whether my German students are the only people in the world
who are asked to write vocabulary-tests and complete translations from SL or
signed German to Spoken Language?? 

Whenever I see documents with the translation of the signs just  within the
next line ( or underneath) I understand that there is no need to use
Mundbilder (smile)

Well – nevertheless – I understand from daily teaching experience that my
students improve their Literacy and competence in SL and German by
presenting these two documents – written in SinWriting and written in German

Please keep on posting your messages – they are very welcome and thanks for
your time and attention – 

Stefan ;-) 


Von: owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
[mailto:owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu] Im Auftrag von Antony Daamen
Gesendet: Freitag, 3. Juni 2005 07:10
An: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
Betreff: Re: [sw-l] Re: AUSTRALIA Sign for Australia - black line etc




HI val and others that are part of this discussion.


Thanks for the explanation of the line. me just learning,  it looked like it
was taken from above.  The hands are palm-down, etc .  However, what is the
view here. as if I sign it, or I watch a person signing it?


about this underlining:


Is there a need to show Deaf people what a "proper noun" is ? Until today I
didn't realise that there was a "proper noun", does that mean there are
improper nouns?


In english we capitalise the days of the week Monday, Tuesday etc. So are
these proper nouns?  

In Dutch we don't capitalise the days of the week.  


So when I learned English in Holland it was explained to me, that these have
capitals. Oh.  I remembered and wrote them in capitals.  In Dutch we didn't
start to write them in capitals to learn the English.  We learned that names
of places in Dutch are capitals. oh. and we did that. So when I see the sign
for Australia, I know that this word has a capital first letter. I never
knew that this was a "proper noun" nor that even these things need to be
highlighted for the Deaf children.  


and on the subject of mundbilder.  


This is ofcourse my opinion and I realise that stefan works very hard with
his Deaf children and really loves his work, and evidently has some succes,
otherwise he wouldn't persevere.


Stefan, you are saying that a deaf person knows what the sign is, but has to
learn the lip patterns to know the German word that relates to the sign?


Look at these sentences:


What is that big loud noise?

What is that pig outdoors?


Same lip patterns, different words.












(meanings below)

Same lip patterns, different words.


Whether the wethers go out in the weather depends on the weather....

I had to learn this sentence at school.


weather = 

Noun.1. the meteorological conditions: temperature and wind and clouds and
precipitation; "they were hoping for good weather"; "every day we have
weather conditions and yesterday was no exception"


1. face or endure with courage; "She braved the elements"


2. cause to slope


3. sail to the windward of


4. change under the action or influence of the weather; "A weathered old


1. towards the side exposed to wind

whether = 

Conjunction. 1. to offer another option, alternative  ( It depends on
whether we can make it or not.)

wether = 

male sheep (desexed)


I am sure that you linguistics can add to this list.


So how do the Deaf or anybody know how to write it, if it has the same


Here in Australia, most Deaf are aware that one sign, can have different
meanings in English, as an English word can have different signs in Auslan.
They are also able to spell these words correctly, without mundbilder, even
without sign writing.....


Just a suggestion:  Why not explain that a sign can have the folowing
different German words, and as part of learning German and its Grammar
explain where what word is used?  This would be the same as you would teach
French, or Dutch or English, Latin to either hearing or deaf students.  


Maybe we can have a look how L'epee used to do this in France (about 17
century).  HIs Deaf pupils became Teachers of the Deaf, and other educated
jobs.  One of the things they had to learn was French and Latin, so he could
explain the finer points of the Roman Catholic Faith.  no mundbilder, nor
signwriting then...


L'epee and his fellow teachers used the Language of the Deaf (Today would be
called French Sign Language) and tought the Deaf everything using their
native language.  To teach French I believe he created signs for those
French words that were necessary for proper grammar(Today that would be
called Signed French). However, he only used this to teach the reading and
writing of French.  For example if he quoted the bible he would sign that in
Signed French, but to explain what the passage was about,or why the French
put it this way, he would explain that in French Sign Language.


In Australia at last they are working on doing the same for the Deaf here:
Using Auslan intepreters/Teacher's Aids for everything, but to quote English
they use Sign English..... 


I am not critisizing your hard work, but maybe you need to give the Deaf
children a little more credit.  For example my wife is Deaf and her
education was oral/aural. When she was younger she would be classed as
Hearing Impaired, other countries call this Hard of Hearing. In the teenage
years her hearing went back wards until she is now Profoundly Deaf. She did
do all right with hearing aids and lipreading at the Primary school, but it
was hopeless at the HIgh School. In the primary school there was one teacher
for the whole year and this teacher would take the time to sit next to her
to explain things one-to-one. In High school was one teacher per subject,
with no private one-to-one.  Hence learning to lipread each teacher was
impossible and thus learning anything else was also not possible. 


She knew some Sign English, through some association with other Deaf. We got
married and together we learned Auslan. Since then her English has improved
out-of sight (=very much), as is her general knowledge from fixing cars to
politics, because I am able to explain why/what etc of the silly English
Language, which has so many letters in words that are not spoken (through is
an example, only hear "thru"), also the many double meanings that make
"hearing jokes" funny.


We have a Australian saying:  "We are flat out as a lizard drinking". Nearly
impossible to explain to those Deaf that do not realise the many meanings of
words.  "flat out" means very busy.  a lizard drinks while he is flat on the
ground to reach the water.  The combination of this is the above saying.


The point I am making is that Deaf can learn those things without going
through things like "mundbilder" or underlining "proper nouns"..  I realise
you do this with the best of intentions, but I also feel that you are
"creating a  rod for your own back", that is, creating more work then is



Antony 8-))









-------Original Message-------


From: Valerie <mailto:sutton at signwriting.org>  Sutton

Date: 06/03/05 02:42:07

To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu

Subject: Re: [sw-l] Re: AUSTRALIA Sign for Australia - black line etc


SignWriting List 

June 2, 2005


Antony Daamen wrote: 

Lucina the black line it "the body" of the signer as seen from the top. 

Stefan I notice that you draw  the sign from the top? why that way? will
readers of the sign realise it is from the top? Later I will practice more.



No Antony. That is a misunderstanding. I do not believe that Stefan was
writing the shoulders in these signs. He was underlining nouns, I believe,
for his Deaf children...They are not shoulders from the overhead view...Am I
wrong, Stefan?


None of these signs, in Stefan's example, needs to be seen from overhead...









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