Summary of writing steps for SignWriting

Charles Butler chazzer3332000 at YAHOO.COM
Sat Oct 8 14:30:49 UTC 2005

I understand, my ordering of the dictionary was based on my observation.
A) Start with the whole meaning?
B) Then, is there my hand, or with the part of the body (face, tongue, teeth) that articulates.  That is the "logical" center of the writing process.  
C) Then, what does that think DO?  It is sitting there (contact) or moving (in various ways)?
D) Is it in tension, or relaxed?
E) Are there other parts connected to it? Other hands, body parts, points in the air? 
F) That way I'm not overwhelmed.  And when I dissect a sign, that's how I dissect it.
For example, the sign Aniol - discussed on line.
A) The whole sign is of a person flapping wings as an angel.   Gestalt, that's what you want to show.
B) What part ISN'T moving around which the sign revolves. The thumbs.  That's where I start.  
C) The thumbs, attached to two "Y" hands are fixed in place, 
D) Uunder tension, not touching each other.
E) Now how is the rest of the body moving to show those flapping wings.  Is it the wrists?  No, the whole arm is involved.
F) Which way is the primary motion.  In this case, it took a little to isolate, but eventually it is circular motion coming back toward the body (tracing the elbows in space).  
The discussion of all of the writers trying to articulate this sign led to clear understanding of what looked to be complicated to what, in retrospect, is clear.

Stuart Thiessen <sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG> wrote:
Thanks, Charles! This is a good description of an ordering sequence. 
But what I am looking for is more of a description of how to "process" 
a sign for writing purposes. In other words, it seems to me that a 
newbie (to borrow a computer term) who looks at a sign might easily get 
overwhelmed by the amount of detail in a sign. Another scenario might 
be a skeptic might look at a complex sign and say, "This is an example 
of a sign that cannot be written."

If we have a good description of how to "decompose" a sign for writing 
purposes, then it helps us to identify a place to start and how to 
proceed until the whole sign is properly written. A good process will 
also help new students of SignWriting develop good habits of how to 
write signs. For example, the way I learned contact symbols, I always 
thought I put the contact symbol near the place of contact and then the 
hand goes as close to the contact symbol as possible. It was only 
recently that I learned that I was wrong in that approach. Now, to 
solve this with a process of writing, I would put in the process to 
identify the hands and put them near the point of contact first. Then 
identify the type of contact and place the contact symbol near the 
hands and the place of contact. My inaccurate process before was to 
identify the type of contact and place the contact symbol. Next, I 
would identify the hand(s) and place them near the contact symbol and 
place of contact. So you can see how a clear process for "decomposing" 
a sign would help in teaching proper writing techniques. I think this 
is more important when we are going from 3D to 2D as compared to spoken 
languages which in general are sequential (unless you are talking about 
tonal languages which are also complex to write).

I agree with Bill, though. With time, practice, and community 
consensus, this will eventually become standardized where we actually 
memorize a spelling much like people do in other written languages. But 
my concern at this point is for those who are either starting or 
skeptical or simply can't see where to begin.



On Oct 7, 2005, at 14:00, Charles Butler wrote:

> Logic of the Order
> The author, using the teaching sequence in Valerie Sutton’s Lessons in 
> SignWriting [1] (see
> also, translated into
> Portuguese and Libras by Marianne Rossi Stumpf with input from Valerie 
> Sutton and Charles
> Butler, needed a way to sequence the signs of a 
> Libras-Portuguese/Portuguese-Libras dictionary
> so that an index of signs could be prepared by handshape and other 
> markers for later
> database and encylopedic development.
> The order of the system (reduced to two pages in the attachment, is as 
> follows).
> 1. The writing is 1st-person, from the signer’s point of view. The 
> complete SignWriting
> system allows for both 1st-person and 3rd-person writing, the 
> dictionary is based on the
> signer’s point of view.
> 2 Butler, C. An Ordering System for SignWriting
> 2. The writing is right-hand primary. Examples are currently taken 
> from the right hand primary
> viewpoint. Left hand primary signs are not currently included in the 
> corpus under
> discussion. A separate later article will discuss left-hand primary 
> signing and the overall
> order of the system.
> 3. As the system, as a writing system, often assumes “signer space”, 
> the body of the signer
> is not shown as a relative position marker unless it is necessary for 
> understanding, such
> as face or body contact or spacial location. Signs that occur in 
> ”neutral” space come first
> in the system, followed by signs which include the head or body as 
> spatial locations.
> 4. A sign which uses the hands only comes first, followed later in the 
> system by signs which
> only use the face, the head, or the body posture and not the hands.
> 5. With signs which use the hands, the first marker that is addressed 
> is the primary hand, in
> this case, the right hand.
> 6. From what Group does the primary hand shape come from? (from the 10 
> groups of hands
> used by the SignWriting system, articulated by which fingers are being 
> used)
> 7. Which particular handshape within those groups is being used on the 
> primary hand? The
> handshapes are ordered by the way in which they are taught in the 
> Manual, plus the way
> they appear in the SignWriter software. The system in the graphic file 
> below includes all
> handshapes appearing in the corpus of the dictionary in the order in 
> which they appear.
> 8. Which orientation (of the six available, palm-toward-reader, 
> palm-facing-left, palm-awayfrom-
> reader, palm-up-hand-pointing-out-from reader, palm facing 
> left-hand-pointing-outfrom-
> reader, palm-down-pointint out from reader).
> 9. Which rotation (counter-clockwise) of the right hand (starting with 
> the up position and
> rotation by 45 degrees).
> 10. Are the fingers being articulated? Joint movements are ordered 
> here (first knuckle open,
> first knuckle close, second knuckle open, second knuckle closed)
> 11. Does the hand touch or move close to a portion of the body which 
> is included in the
> writing sample? (A body touch, for example, even if the body is not 
> shown, such as the
> sign for ”meu,”, ”minha”, or ”mine” all touch the center of the body 
> with the open flat
> hand..) If so, the order is top of head to bottom of feet, top to 
> bottom, left to right. The
> graphic shows most of the positions appearing in the corpus.
> 12. What kind of touch is being articulated. The order is touch, hold, 
> strike, in-between, brush,
> rub.
> 13. What speed is the articulation, fast or slow?
> 14. Is there a facial expression? Facial expressions are top to 
> bottom, left to right, depending
> on which parts of the face are being articulated. The blank face comes 
> first (used when
> you simply want to show that the hand moves across the face) followed 
> by particular
> expressions.
> Stuart Thiessen wrote:See comments below ...
>> Thanks,
>> Stuart
>> On Oct 7, 2005, at 11:06, Bill Reese wrote:
>> > Stuart,
>> >
>> > I don't see mention of facial symbols.
>> I tend to group facial expressions, body shifts, etc. into a category
>> that I call "non-manual markers." When we get into phrases, sentences,
>> etc., there are more influences from the non-manuals that need to be
>> considered. This is especially true for situations where a facial
>> expression or body shift or head shift will continue over a phrase or
>> sentence. I guess my approach is to start with the lexical item and
>> then consider its context and apply the necessary non-manuals. In some
>> cases, I might apply the non-manuals earlier if they are a part of the
>> anchor (like facial expressions to the head symbol, etc.). I assume
>> that with fluency and habit, this process may not be rigorously
>> followed, but I think some process is needed for instructional
>> purposes.
>> > Also, locations left and right of an "anchor" seems to imply an 
>> anchor
>> > that is centrally placed. Since most signs are done at chest level,
>> > perhaps, for purposes of writing a sign, the spatial anchor would be
>> > the center of the chest, corresponding to the center of the sign 
>> frame
>> > space. Even if the sign has an anchor on a location of the body, 
>> that
>> > location, in turn, needs to be anchored, thus making the center of 
>> the
>> > chest a convenient reference point. Maybe this is too simplistic,
>> > but it would give a standard reference point that would be readily
>> > understood.
>> This is true. However, if I was signing my name, my anchor is actually
>> the dominant side of my head. If I were signing the old ASL sign for
>> Russia, my anchor is actually my hips. So that was why I mentioned 
>> both
>> neutral space (near the central region of the chest) and/or a specific
>> location on the body for the anchor.
>> >
>> > My first reaction, though, was that after a period of time, we
>> > progress beyond the construction of the sign by it's individual
>> > symbols to just the sign itself and, further, to phrases and
>> > sentences. At that point, we may not be constructing a written sign
>> > based on the recording of an observed sign but more on rote
>> > memorization of written signs accepted as standard. In which case,
>> > the writing of the sign may very well take on a type of construction
>> > that's very close to what you have listed but in a standardized
>> > manner. Perhaps Valerie's pronunciation rules could be used here.
>> Agreed. The purpose of my description is to help people who believe it
>> is impossible to write a sign or who want to learn how to write a sign
>> to see how to break down the steps. Once they see how a sign can be
>> broken down and written, then they may be more willing to go the next
>> step to learn how to write it. I just want to be sure that I am
>> following a good process for writing it down. If you all have a
>> different process, I am interested to learn it because maybe my 
>> process
>> needs refining or maybe like Perl programmers say, "TMTOWTDI" (There's
>> More Than One Way To Do It). If I teach my process and a student
>> doesn't get it, maybe another process will help them.
>> >
>> > Bill
>> >
>> >
>> > Stuart Thiessen wrote:
>> >
>> >> I was just looking for a way to describe in basic, simple terms how
>> >> we move from a sign we see to a sign we write. Any feedback on 
>> these
>> >> steps as a way to describe this process? It would be much
>> >> appreciated. I came up with these steps. I am not sure about the
>> >> timing of #6, but I just put it there for now. I wanted to think 
>> of a
>> >> way to help people visualize the process. This is what I catch 
>> myself
>> >> doing. What about you all?
>> >>
>> >> 1. Identify the sign’s “anchor.” This could be neutral space in 
>> front
>> >> of the body or it could be some location on the body.
>> >> 2. If hands are involved (we should never assume always), we need 
>> to
>> >> identify the handshape(s) and orientation(s) and select the
>> >> corresponding symbol(s), placing the symbol(s) in 2D relationship 
>> to
>> >> the anchor.
>> >> 3. If the hand(s) contact the body or each other, we need to select
>> >> the appropriate contact symbol to represent the contact.
>> >> 4. Unless the sign is stationary or only consisting of simple
>> >> contact, we now look to identify the movement of the hand(s) and
>> >> select the appropriate movement symbol(s).
>> >> 5. If the hand(s) change to another handshape(s) during the 
>> movement,
>> >> we select those handshape(s) and note their location(s).
>> >> 6. Finally, we note any particular dynamics (fast, slow, tense, 
>> etc.)
>> >> and any non-manual markers that are essential to the sign.
>> >>
>> >> Thanks,
>> >>
>> >> Stuart
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
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