[sw-l] IMWA & Language-Specific Symbolsets

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Jun 23 02:55:48 UTC 2005

SignWriting List
June 22, 2005

Everyone -
I am sorry I have not been able to read all your messages today - One
of the problems is that this year I have had a lot of health problems
that have slowed me down, and also I am unpaid like so many of us
are...no complaints...but just a point that the IMWA is slow because
of my own personal limitations...I feel badly if I am keeping any of
you from faster solidification...And requiring me to finish the IMWA
before we can do Unicode is a pressure on me too. Holding everyone
back was never my intention.

And I get the impression that many of you think that it is necessary
to use the IMWA to write? Not at all! That was the point of dividing
Sutton Movement Writing into sections called DanceWriting,
MimeWriting, SignWriting etc ...so that each profession could pin
down what symbols they needed, and they could move forward with their
work, independent from the other professions that had different
needs...but meanwhile, they all shared those symbols from a common
source...Sutton Movement Writing.

What is the difference between Sutton Movement Writing and the IMWA?
They are the same thing, except Sutton Movement Writing has existed
for decades without all the symbols in computers...DanceWriting for
example, has always been written by hand, or with ink pens or with
wax transfer sheets...but never typing by computer. So I guess you
could say that the IMWA is the computerization of all of the symbols
in Sutton Movement Writing. And SignMaker has become the vehicle of
the IMWA.

So when I say I am adding to the IMWA, I am not inventing new symbols
(well, maybe some  ;-) . But most exist written by hand already. But
those symbols are not in the computer yet. The IMWA is important and
should be allowed to grow as needed, but if we can pin down a good
SSS-US, then THAT will become more important to everyday ASL users,
because they will only have the symbols they need. They can always
turn to the IMWA for research, or writing foreign signed languages,
or sign language theater....or in the event that we did not pin down
every symbol needed afterall...

Having the IMWA in SignMaker is a blessing because it helps us see
all the symbols easily. It is amazing how people are writing signs
with such a big symbolset, even though they only need a portion of
the symbols that are available to them...That is the beauty of

No one seems to have chosen the Spinal Undulation symbols yet...I
wonder why?! Those are for DanceWriting ;-)

And with the Symbol Frequency feature that Steve added recently...if
that Symbol Freqency could also include movement symbols and facial
expressions and body movement too...then we could pin down the true
SSS-US properly....which is not only handshapes obviously.

We already typed 17 signed languages for decades, with the old
symbolset in SignWriter DOS and we did perfectly fine! I predict that
the real SSS-US will be similar to SSS-1995, with some additions,
some new symbols, but similar nonetheless...

Today I wanted so badly to start adding some of the movement-symbol
combinations into the IMWA...like the symbol that Stuart has..the
hump movement forward...that we constructed together for the name of
Stuart's Pass-It-On Services...those kinds of movement symbol
combinations that are so easy to write by hand...but they need to be
added as symbols into the IMWA if we are going to write them easily
by computer...

But instead of doing that work, I had to do other important things,
so as always, I am running behind...

So I want to feel un-stressed and enjoy the process of documenting
Sutton Movement Writing, and I think that it could be someday fun to
experiment with a SignMaker that just uses the new SSS-US...People
would find out fast if we had left any symbols out, and it would be a
great forum for discussing what symbols REALLY are needed to write a
signed language...Meanwhile I will still be merrily adding symbols to
the IMWA so nothing will be lost!

We may find that instead of an SSS-US, maybe what is really needed is
an International SignWriting Alphabet, that is a subset for all
signed languages, leaving out DanceWriting symbols...

...I hope you all will go right ahead with your work...Please don't
hold yourselves back because the IMWA is not done...It is not
supposed to get done...smile...and we already have the symbols to
write signs with...

Steve - I am running late with the new IMWA...I had hoped to get it
done by July 1st...it may be July 15th now...hope that is ok with
you...? It will incude new movement combinations, and more facial
expressions...just in time for the SignWriting Symposium in Brussels!

Val ;-)

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