signs in different cultures

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Jan 17 03:51:06 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
January 16, 2006

Liz Harvey wrote:
> Thanks Valerie!  I am interested in any information I can get on using
>> SignWriting out in the field for research such as in Primatology.  
>> Several students have asked me if there are examples of research  
>> where someone has used SignWriting to map the movements of humans,  
>> non-human primates, or other animals.

Hello Liz and Neil and Everyone!
What a great are non-human primates? apes or monkeys or gorillas? I looked up the word primate  
to make sure I understood, and I got this


primate 2 |ˈprīˌmāt| |ˌpraɪm1t| |ˌpraɪˈmeɪt| |ˌprʌɪmeɪt|
noun Zoology
a mammal of an order that includes the lemurs, bush babies, tarsiers,  
marmosets, monkeys, apes, and humans. They are distinguished by  
having hands, handlike feet, and forward-facing eyes, and, with the  
exception of humans, are typically agile tree-dwellers. • Order  
Primates: several families.


Have you visited the MovementWriting site, Liz? It discusses the fact  
that Sutton Movement Writing is a way to read and write all  
movement....but SignWriting is the section of the writing system that  
focuses on Sign Languages around the world...

Technically, Movement Writing can write any movement not specific to  
signed languages...For example I have written some dog movement, and  
once I was asked to write the movements of spiders from a videotape  
but that project never happened. I did, however, write the body  
language of five hearing people sitting on a couch anything  
that moves, can be written...I was asked to write the difference  
between the movements of a boy playing who was not autistic, and  
compare those movements to a child who was autistic...

SignWriting takes the same Movement Writing symbols and applies them  
to writing the way the body moves when people sign...Sign Languages  
are not international. There are oftentimes one or two signed  
languages within one country, and they are different languages than  
other countries. But they all use movement, and SignWriting is a way  
to write movement...

So if an ape or chimpanzee signs, of course that movement could be  
written with SignWriting, but if you wish to write his scratching and  
how he swings from a tree, we can write that with Movement Writing,  
which is more a generic Movement Writing system, and not specific to  
Sign Languages. DanceWriting is specific to dance movements,  
MimeWriting is specific to classic mime like Marcel Marceau,  
SportsWriting writes the movements of skateboarding, gymnastics, ice  
skating etc and we have a generic Gesture writing for scientific  
research on movement...


Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

1. SignWriting
Read & Write Sign Languages

2. SignBank
Sign Language Database Software

3. SignPuddle
Create Signs in SignWriting Online!

4. MovementWriting
Read & Write ALL Body Movement

5. DanceWriting
Read & Write Dance Choreography

6. SportsWriting
Read & Write Different Kinds of Sports

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