AW: [sw-l] Writing mouthing of words with SSW

Stefan Wöhrmann stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE
Sun Feb 26 11:42:55 UTC 2006

Hi Valerie, Erica, Cherie  and friends, 

I am so sorry - but somehow it is difficult to explain - because of the two
complete different systems - but similar terminology. 

Let us forget about "Mundbildschrift" within the context of SW !! 

I agree that within the context of SignWriting this is what I do: 

I look at the mouth of the signer and try to describe what I see with the
symbols from Your IMWA symbol set. 

Besides voiceless articulation we observe mouth gesture as well a great deal
and I agree that that part is very important in DGS as well. 

There has been a severe and pretty heated discussion about this aspect of
"voiceless articulation". I do not want to open that can of worms again.  

The step aside - smile- is that I made some decisions that had not been made

With my pre-knowledge of German Language and German Sign Language I can make
different observations /interpretations of what is being performed. 

Since this voiceless mouthing is a part of some  SL performances (smile)
in some SL of the world it should be important to find a way to document
these information. 

Without knowing the spoken language of that given country it might be
difficult or even impossible to capture the important aspects of this

But as an informed observer there is now a possibility to provide at least
that bit of information that allows the reader to understand the written
document without any doubts. 

If you compare the SW spelling for ship and boat in the US - puddle - you
find no difference. 

If a teacher with ASL background wants his/her students to
translate/understand the two sentences  - 

The ship is blue. The boat is white.

What would they write? How do they know that the nouns are different? 

All the best 

Stefan ;-)) 

-----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
Von: owner-sw-l at
[mailto:owner-sw-l at] Im Auftrag von Valerie Sutton
Gesendet: Samstag, 25. Februar 2006 19:42
An: sw-l at
Betreff: [sw-l] Writing mouthing of words with SSW

SignWriting List
February 25, 2006

Stefan Wöhrmann wrote:

> Valerie - I think it is very important to understand the difference  
> between
> "Mundbildschrift" and  Mundbilder in SignWriting /GebaerdenSchrift)

Perhaps I get the German terminology incorrect...I am sorry!

Mundbilder is what I call SignWriting Facial Expressions, I guess! It  
is funny because we never created a term specifically for the facial  
expressions used in the grammar of signed languages...they are simply  
SignWriting symbols that are applied by the writer to write that, if  
they wish...

Mundbildschrift is what I used to call SpeechWriting, years ago,  
writing the movements of speech specifically...not involved with any  
signed language at all... but of course Mundbildschrift is your  
invention, Stefan, when specified for writing German speech...

What is so fascinating about your work, Stefan, is that you have  
actually used Mundbildschrift combined with the writing of basic  
signs in DGS, haven't you at times? Giving the Deaf students the  
mouthing of the words plus the basic signs...which is different than  
a Deaf person signing to another Deaf person, when some of the mouth  
movements change to reflect the grammar of the signed language and  
have little or no connection with the speech of the spoken language  
in the country...

Here in the US there are some Deaf people who mouth words when they  
sign with hearing people, but when they sign with other Deaf people  
and the hearing people leave the room, their mouth movements change  
from mouthing speech to the Deaf facial expressions necessary for ASL  

> Love to read more messages about this problem. I understand that  
> some or the
> majority of ASL - signers do not use these lip-movement  
> information ...

This is a little complicated, but we did some research on this when I  
worked with around 10 Deaf people, called the DAC, or Deaf Action  
Committee years ago...Kevin Clark is born several generations Deaf,  
and obviously so was his sister, Darline (grin)...but they are two  
very different kind of signers when it comes to mouthing words...

Kevin has literally no hearing at all and cannot use hearing aids  
because the nature of his deafness...this means that sound is really  
not a part of his world. His Deaf sister Darline would be completely  
deaf without a hearing aid, but with a hearing aid she has some sound  
coming in...

The difference is night and day, when it comes to mouthing  
words...Darline mouths some, but Kevin simply does not...They are  
both strong ASL people, but there is a difference the way they use  
mouthing...and what is really important here is that Kevin is totally  
understood clearly, without the mouthing of spoken language, for  
anyone who knows the mouthing is NOT essential for  
understanding ASL...but certain ASL facial expressions ARE essential  
for understanding ASL grammar...

So that is why we do not write as much mouthing in our ASL  
SignPuddle, as you have in your German SignPuddle...the facial  
expressions specific to true ASL change, depending on their placement  
in a sentence, and so to place that in the dictionary is hard,  
because there is not one facial expression that it always connected  
with each ASL sign...and we know that mouthing the English word is  
not necessary, in fact, it can hinder the reading of ASL grammar...

So you are right to separate the writing of mouthing and the writing  
of grammatical facial expressions...we need better terms in English  
for this! You have terms in

Congratulations on your great work!

Val ;-)

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