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

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Sun Dec 17 17:06:22 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
December 17, 2006

Stefan Wöhrmann wrote:
> 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- )

Hi Stefan!
What you describe above is for a person who has the time to really  
learn the writing system in depth, and that is wonderful that you  
teach it so well in your school for Deaf children in Germany! Your  
Deaf students are so fortunate and I only wish every school around  
the world taught SignWriting in depth...

Deaf adults have not been so lucky. They did not learn it in school  
and so they oftentimes feel overwhelmed about learning something new  
at their old age...

It is hard to teach any adult something new..I really should learn to  
speak Spanish...and then I never get to learning Spanish because my  
daily life gets in the way (I allow it to get in the way of  
course)...If there could be a Quick-Reading course in Spanish I might  
take it would seem less overwhelming...

> 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.

Sure. Reading a foreign signed language in SignWriting takes your  
kind of knowledge of Movement Writing...obviously Quick-Reading is  
based on giving a quick introduction to reading a person's own there is some guessing that is connected to knowing the  
language already...that is for sure...but nothing wrong with that, if  
it helps them later to have the courage to learn SignWriting in more  
depth later...

> 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.

Speed is cultural. Americans love speed. Fast cars, fast is ridiculous how focused people are on speed in the  
US...there are ads on TV saying "learn computers in 10 minutes" or  
"excercise for 10 minutes and you will lose all this fat"..etc  
etc...rediculous expectations based on speed...where are they rushing  
to? is my question ;-))

I loved working in Denmark, where they did not want speed, but wanted  
to learn properly and slowly. I only wish we could change the  
American culture, but our students are failing in school now, and we  
are behind other countries because everyone wants instant  
gratification in the young people growing up here...they want to  
learn things without taking time to learn properly...

So you are lucky that in Germany you learn properly...congrats on  

So Quick-Reading may be better for the American culture, but no  
matter what, I am hoping people will want to learn in depth later...

> 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.

I agree with you!

> 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
> messages?
> 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.

I agree for cultures that understand that...

No matter what, thank you for your excellent ideas and message, Stefan!

Val ;-)

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