LSE & the Chinese writing

Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa shane.gilchrist.oheorpa at GMAIL.COM
Fri Dec 15 00:56:42 UTC 2006

Andre: Vals right - the Chinese do write both ways - left-to-right is
getting more common but for illustrations and displays etc they tend
to go vertical which i think is great.

Val is also right - SW first started as left-to-right - for some its
okay but for the majority of deaf kids, its a bit out of the way - it
ll push them into using 'Signed English' or 'Signed French' in your
case - cos it goes the same way as Written English. There are other
reasons but I have forgotten (but Val have illustrated some of them
here) - verticial is the way go!

Val:  PLEASE do send us the LSE poem - i am looking forward to seeing it!


On 14/12/06, Valerie Sutton <signwriting at> wrote:
> SignWriting List
> December 14, 2006
> Andre from Canada wrote:
> > I read SW Spanish and SW German textbooks.  Also, I read a SW
> > Brazilian Portuguese magazine.  I noticed that authors are used to
> > write from left to right, not from top to bottom.  US authors are
> > used to write from top to bottom.  I once read that according to SW
> > members, it is easier to read from top to bottom.
> It is better for the grammer of signed languages to write in vertical
> columns with Lanes. It has nothing to do with other countries. It has
> to do with old and new software.
> The old SignWriter DOS computer program could only write from left to
> right, so that is why you see old documents written from left to right.
> The new SignPuddle software, which includes SignText, is designed to
> write down in vertical columns because it is better for the grammer
> of signed languages. Many of the old writers do not realize this yet,
> so they still need to learn how to write down in vertical
> columns...It is a big change for some people who are used to the old
> software...
> So it is just a matter of training...A lot of the Brazilian work is
> written in vertical columns...Marianne Stumpf, who is Deaf herself,
> writes articles in vertical columns...I will show you the foreword to
> her Lessons in SignWriting textbook...that is written vertically...
> So it has nothing to do with the US versus other has
> to do with old software versus new software...and the fact that some
> people do not realize that weight shifting, role shifting and
> comparing an item on the right with an item on the left, is written
> and read better, if the writing is vertical...
> >
> >
> >     I want to share this with you:  I met a young hearing woman who
> > is a native Chinese who moved to Canada.  I asked her to read a
> > Chinese language from top to bottom.  She answered : "No, this
> > Chinese language is now read from left to right, not anymore from
> > top to bottom."  I then asked her: "Why did this Chinese language
> > stop to be read from top to bottom?"  She replied : "It was very
> > hard to read it from top to bottom with many vertical columns in a
> > book. It is easier to read it from left to right in a book."  She
> > said that it is easier to read one, two or three vertical column
> > (s), but not 10 vertical columns.  She knew that this specific old
> > Chinese language was read from top to bottom and had many vertical
> > columns.  But it has changed: it is now read from left to right and
> > has many horizontal lines.  But, I do not know if it is true.
> It is important NOT to compare SignWriting with Chinese. Chinese does
> not write facial expressions with handshapes underneath the head.
> SignWriting is written vertically because the body is vertical and we
> are writing the way the body looks. Chinese does not write the human
> body. They had other reasons for writing vertically and it has no
> relation to SignWriting.
> All writing systems, for any language, technically can be written in
> any direction if we wish. And I know some Signwriters who write in
> circles, for poetry, or in diagonals...I can find you a poem from
> Spain written by a Deaf person and they wrote the SignWriting in a
> spiral design because it looked beautiful, so there will always be
> people who choose to write in different directions...
> But we write in vertical columns with a right lane, a center lane and
> a left lane, because we found through experience that readers read
> the Sign Language better when reading vertical columns. When reading
> documents that are left to right, some of that information is lost...
> So I am slowly trying to educate old writers about the benefits of
> writing down in vertical columns...not all people know about it yet...
> > I checked this and I found that most US children stories use from
> > one to four vertical column(s).  Also, I wanted to check the books
> > (i.e. more than 50 pages).  The SW textbooks based on a bilingual
> > language (sign language and spoken language) exist from left to
> > right.  It seems to me that only SW books based on monolingual
> > (i.e. sign language only) read from top to bottom and with more
> > than 10 vertical columns do not exist.  But I may be wrong.  I'm
> > asking everyone if you have a SW book only based on a sign language
> > (i.e. without using a spoken language) and which is read from top
> > to bottom and has more than 10 vertical columns?
> Why do you have to have more than 10 vertical columns on one page?
> Why does that matter? If you are worried about it not being small
> enough, you will see that we can write at very very small sizes...but
> because most people are beginners with SignWriting right now, I don't
> want to write documents too tiny, because then it is hard to learn to
> read at that size...but for advanced readers very small is
> readable..I think 5 columns is plenty on one page...why would 10 be
> necessary?
> >
> >
> >      I would also like to ask a question only to native Chinese SW
> > members:  Is it true that a Chinese language is now read and
> > written from left to right?
> I can read a little Korean and they write both down the page and also
> left to right...and I have some Chinese books that are written in
> both directions within the same book! But those two languages have
> nothing to do with Sign Language and SignWriting...Sign Language is
> vertical because our bodies are vertical and we are writing body
> movement when we write SignWriting...
> Val ;-)

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