AW: [sw-l] How long does it take to learn?

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE
Sun Dec 17 11:53:54 UTC 2006

Hello Jason, Adam, Valerie ... sw-list members, 

I feel motivated to add a comment. 

Well obviously I disagree - I do not believe that it is so easy to learn to
read SW - 

The reason is that I make a difference between understanding some basics (
flat hand, palm orientation, double-stemmed movement), understanding to
remember the meaning of a given amount of distinct sw-spellings - I call
this "Pictogram-reading"  and kind of analytic understanding of what is
written - the experienced reader should be able to read/peform any given
SW-document ( I am not talking about understanding the meaning - just being
able to sign what is written- ) 
Now we see, that it is not so easy to read documents which you never have
seen before. Often misspellings are a problem - but even if people get the
chance to read well-written SW - documents in a not-familiar SL they need
some time ( not just a few minutes - smile - ) to get used to the analytic
process that is needed to "understand" what is written. 

The next step would be to ask a person to tanslate that given SW-document or
to answer questions about the meaning -- 

Now additional to the performance of the movement you have to connect to the
meaning of these signs in the given SL. In some SL the Mundbilder offer an
important load of the information - smile - .... 

>From my every day experience I can say that I would not focus on speed but
rather on the fact that now we got the chance to write SL in a way that has
not been offered before. 

So what would/can you do, if you do not use SW?  I annot think of anything
that seems to be an adequate alternative option, if it comes down to be able
to document the movements of any given SL-performance at any length.

And Jason - yes learning to read is a lot easier compared to learning to
write. At our times of computers everybody wants to be quick and quicker ...
but from my point of view that cannot be the point. 

How long did it took an Egyptian to carve the message into stone? And how
many people at that time would have been able to read and write these
How long doest it take to draw good looking life-like drawings of a given
sign - and can you imagine to write whole stories and all the SW-documents
with this method? Well I can not!

So it is not the speed but the quality and accurateness that counts - from
my point of view. 

Stefan ;-)     

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] Im Auftrag von Adam Frost
Gesendet: Freitag, 15. Dezember 2006 22:46
An: sw-l at
Betreff: Re: [sw-l] How long does it take to learn?

I can only say from my experience as a Deaf user. I have taught a lot
of Deafies to read SW, and they all get it in less than 30 minutes.
Now that doesn't mean that they can write in SW, but the can read a
document without support.
Now, for your question about daily users, that will be diffcult to
figure as I am sure several others on the list will agree. But I can
speak for myself that I have tons of notes to myself in SW. My
computer has some, but is limited because of the lack of technology.
Which brings me to my next comment, most Deafies I know near me don't
use it on a daily bases because there isn't ease to use it. This has
brought out my blunt nature of being Deaf (and because I know them
well) to say to them it is just an excuse to stay illiterate in their
own native language. (I know. Very bold!)
I hope this helped you out some.


On 12/15/06, Jason Hopkins <codenosher at> wrote:
> Hello,
> Just so you know, I'm probing a bit for some research I'm doing :)
> From your experiences, how long does it take for your average Deaf person
> learn SW good enough to read most things?  I know this is pretty vague,
> I'd like to know about what you've experienced yourself or in training
> classes.
> I'd also like to know how many people are using SW on a daily basis, and
> what ways.  I have seen the cards and a couple of emails, but in what ways
> are you using this on a daily basis for meaningful communication outside
> the handful of grade schools I've seen listed.
> Does anyone leave coworkers notes in SW?  Look around your computer, on a
> bulletin board or on your fridge, do you have notes to yourself or others
> SW?  I'd really like to know how the deaf Deaf are using SW on a daily
> basis.
> -Jason
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