writing multi-party conversation

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Aug 2 23:03:37 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
August 2, 2006

Hello Erika, Steve, Antonio Carlos, Ingvild, Stefan, Stuart, and  

Thank you for these really interesting messages...It is inspiring to  
read them. I am going to find your page 102, Ingvild, shortly, and  
read it...smile.....and I know Stefan has written dialogues too....

This is such an excellent summary below, Steve...our history in a  
nutshell ....and you have helped us jump the big hurdle into the  
world of vertically-written documents with Lanes, thanks to SignText...

Documents in vertical lanes are easier for readers, because it shows  
clearly to the reader, that one item located on the right, is being  
compared to another item located on the left. You can scan down the  
columns when reading long documents and see the signer referring to  
the right and to the left...it is so easy to read, it really looks  
like a person signing...I believe this is important for the  
preservation of signed language grammar, and important for developing  
fluent readers in SignWriting. So thank you for the tools to do it  

I can show you all some of the new SignBank Document Maker program  
soon. It is a layout program for creating documents...a little like a  
Microsoft Word for SignWriting, using SignText as the writing  
program....Steve mentioned it below...

Val ;-)


On Aug 2, 2006, at 12:56 PM, Steve Slevinski wrote:

> Hi Erika,
> Here's my understanding...  Others may write different, but I think  
> this is what some of the best deaf writers and Val together have  
> learned through years and years of daily use.
> Ask follow up questions about any section, or ask for another  
> perspective from the list.
> Modern SignWriting has three conventions that will help.
> 1) Expressive vs Receptive
> ------------------------
> We write in the expressive view.  You should be able to read  
> SignWriting as if you can see through the page and see yourself  
> signing.  The receptive view would be a transcript, what an  
> observer sees.
> For reading and writing, the expressive view works best.
> 2) Vertical Vs Horizontal
> -----------------------
> SignWriting started as a horizontal writing system.  All versions  
> of the SignWriter program use horizontal writing.  We have learned  
> that vertical writing allows for better use of spatial  
> information.  Since the head is always centered, you gain quick  
> spatial information by glancing your eyes down the page.
> With horizontal writing, the left and right sides become more  
> difficult to interpret.  Instead of being able to glance down the  
> page, the eye is interrupted for each sign.  This decreases reading  
> speed and the reader's enjoyment..
> 3) Vertical in Lanes
> -----------------
> Another advancement was discovered by watching really good story  
> tellers recite a monologue.  Sometimes they use a very distinct  
> body weight shift.  The signer's entire torso will shift from  
> center while their feet stay in the same position.  This creates a  
> very distinct feeling of 3 lanes: center, left and right.  Some can  
> argue for more, but 3 really is the magic number and should be the  
> most commonly used form.  Using lanes in vertical writing expands  
> and clarifies visual spatial information.
> Fully Body SignWriting versus MovementWriting
> -------------------------------------------------
> SignWriting is only a part of the MovementWriting system that Val  
> has developed.  If you want to describe advanced body interactions  
> and involvement with the environment, you will need special symbol  
> sets created in the IMWA.  Anything is possible, but realize where  
> SignWriting ends and MovementWriting starts.  SignWriting is a  
> complete subset of the MovementWriting system with special rules  
> and best practices all its own.  MovementWriting has recently been  
> used to describe skateboard tricks.
> Novel, Screenplay or Textbook
> ------------------------------
> Either way, use the expressive view, write vertically and consider  
> lanes.
> A novel would have a narrator.  It's possible that the center lane  
> can be the narrator of the story.  He can set characters or  
> environments into the alternate lanes.  If there is a main  
> character, perhaps he will set the main character to the left lane  
> and use the right for other characters.  If he is describing 2  
> ideas, he may put one idea in one lane using a body weight shift  
> and one idea on the other.  It is very easy to switch from lane to  
> lane having an in depth compare and contrast.  It is possible to  
> relating a lot of information easily and quickly.
> If there is advanced character interaction with the environment,  
> I'd stay away from MovementWriting, and allow the narrator to  
> describe the action in the middle lane.  Think of an author telling  
> the story, rather than describing a video.  This is writing for the  
> reader, rather than writing a screenplay.
> A screenplay would have sections of MovementWriting describing the  
> interaction of people and objects.  It would also have sections of  
> SignWriting where individual characters are signing.  If they are  
> signing at the same time, you may want to consider using lanes,  
> where each character has their own.  They way they could sign over  
> each other.
> A textbook would have sign text interspersed with graphics, spoken  
> language, and possibly MovementWriting illustrations.
> Whichever format, SignWriting should be written expressive and  
> vertically.
> Computer or by Hand
> ----------------------
> When writing individual signs and texts on computer, consider using  
> SignPuddle and SignText.  For fancy presentation, you can use  
> either SignBank, MS Word or something else.
> When writing by hand, you may want to use a vertically lined piece  
> of paper for easier head aligning.
> That's what I'd consider.
> Regards,
> -Steve
> eghoffma at UMICH.EDU wrote:
>> Hi - I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience writing multi- 
>> party conversations with SSW. I'm working on linguistic  
>> transcripts of naturally occuring conversation/interviews/etc in  
>> Nepali Sign Language. I've only done transcripts of single signers  
>> so far, to get used to Signwriting. Now I want to start doing  
>> these multiparty interactions. Does anyone have any tips about  
>> this? I figure that I will have each party's signing going down  
>> side-by-side vertical strips (which is nice because I can visually  
>> represent overlap and all that). I am writing from the receptive  
>> point of view for these transcripts as that seems more suited to  
>> what I am working on here (though I agree that expressive makes  
>> more sense for personal writing). In most of these conversations  
>> the signers are facing one another (and are therefore at 3/4 to  
>> the camera). Does it make any sense to represent the way that  
>> looks in the sign writing or does it make more sense to write the  
>> signs as if the signers were directly facing the camera? Also, I  
>> have a lot of home signers in my data, who often incorporate the  
>> physical environment in their communication (reaching out to  
>> physically manipulate objects, trace on table tops, etc). I don't  
>> suppose sign writing has any means of representing contact with  
>> external physical objects? If not I can always describe these  
>> actions along with the glosses. I think most of these questions  
>> will work themselves out as I keep working, but I thought I'd  
>> throw some of these questions out there so I won't reinvent the  
>> wheel if someone has already worked through all this.
>> Best,
>> Erika
>> Quoting Valerie Sutton <sutton at signwriting.org>:
>>> SignWriting List
>>> August 1, 2006
>>> On Jul 20, 2006, Kimberley Shaw wrote:
>>>> I've attached a picture of the first run of "ASL Story Book" as  
>>>> it  was being assembled! The first 20 copies are spoken for  
>>>> already,  leaving 30 up for sale to whomever ...Best, Kim
>>> --------------
>>> Hello Kim!
>>> This is very exciting. The ASL Anthology looks great. I can see   
>>> several stories I know. Congrats!
>>> Look forward to hearing about your time at Gallaudet this summer -
>>> And thanks for this photo of the ASL Anthology while it was being  
>>> put  together...what fun ;-)
>>> ?

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