FRANCE Left-Handed and Right-Handed in SW

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Jan 30 05:35:45 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
January 29, 2006

What an exciting message, Juliette! Thank you for sharing with us...

Juliette Dalle from France wrote:

> Thanks a lot for your comments, observations and thinkings. Only I  
> didn't developp the real problem. I will say you more after my  
> meeting with team of teachers with who I work since october and the  
> group of linguistics for who I work. We will discuss about it  
> tomorrow.

Wonderful! Please say a warm hello to your co-workers from me!  
smile...I will be thinking of you...

> Only i can say you that we use the SW as a tool for the Sign  
> Language. Not as a written language. Because we don't know if theis  
> system will answer as a full form writing for a sign language.  
> Indeed the linguistics want to find if in the SW there are many  
> informations about the iconity. In our LSF, the iconity, grammar,  
> the view and space-time are very important. So the SW could do it  
> all in a text ?

Absolutely! Yes. SignWriting can do it all.  Soon we will have  
software for creating sentences in SignWriting on the web, without  
requiring any spoken glosses necessary...and when we  
have that, your Deaf students could create sentences on the web, or  
offline, and think directly in Sign Language and not in any spoken  

But other countries there are signers who write letters to  
each other in their Sign Language...for example in Nicaragua and  
other countries, SignWriting is used as a real writing system written  
by communicate thoughts and ideas directly in Sign Language...

> To the maternal school, we notice that the children (5 years) have  
> a little problem to know the left and right hand on a sign in SW.  
> Indeed we don't give a real lesson of SW (system) to children. We  
> give juste some signs in SW to children to see if they could  
> unterstand and we guide them to find the answer. It is this  
> situation, we notice the problem. So we have to create the same  
> signs in SW with color (Blue for right hand and Red for left hand).  
> It helps many the children to "catch" the sign without wrong. And  
> in this class (3 children of 5 years), one is left-handed and 2  
> right-handed. The left-handed child feels now to not be isoled  
> because of difference.

That is fine for children, but I will guess that as the children get  
older, and if they continue to read SignWriting, they will not need  
the colors...the problem goes away and people can read right or left  
handed SignWriting with no problem...this has been true in  
Albuquerque, New Mexico, with very young ones, and I understand from  
Stefan that there is no problem with his German Deaf students  
either...reading is no different than when they watch a person sign  
left-handed or right-handed...they understand the person signing to  
them no matter which hand they use, correct? Reading those same signs  
on paper is no different...

The only fact we do not know yet, is in regards to writing...When the  
Deaf children start writing their own signs, then they tend to write  
the way they personally sign...or apparently it also depends on which  
hand is using the pen! So that shows how flexible they are...I  
wouldn't worry about this...

> To the elemary school (6-10 years, supports : signes isoled and  
> texts in SW), with 2 classes, we have notice the same problem but  
> little with the classe of 6-7 years old, we use the color left- 
> right, the children unterstand better. In these classes (9  
> children), 4 are left-handed. It is the first time this year that  
> we have many left-handed children.

Wow. So many left-handed children...You are very intelligent in  
France!! smile

> Other problem (why it is a problem with the reft-right handed ?),  
> we think that it is provinced from different methode of  
> perception : lecture of a SW text and "lecture" of signing of the  
> teacher (miror / crossing) :
> - in the SW text, we see as a miror, as if we sign ourselves.
> - when we look the teacher to sign, we must think in "crossing" as  
> if we try to become in the place of the teacher.

Yes - this is a question of Expressive and Receptive...

> It is a different perception. These 2 perceptions make a bit to  
> confuse the children who make to confuse the teachers who aren't so  
> strong in SW. I am always with them during the SW-LSF lessons.

This is a Expressive and Receptive issue... Fluent signwriters want  
to write the way they sign, but when we look at someone else signing,  
it is reversed...

> It do us to create a method to read a SW text in the miror method.

you mean you want to write SignWriting in the Receptive mode?

> I would like that in the list SW, the teachers who give the Sign  
> Language Lesson with the SW, give their opinion, it is more  
> important for us. And others teachers who don't teach the SL or  
> aren't teachers are welcome too.

Juliette, you might tell your teachers and co-workers that when we  
first began with SignWriting, it was always Receptive. We wrote with  
a stick figure, and the stick figure was always facing the reader,  
just like the teacher faces the child when signing. So I understand  
this problem, because that is the way we started writing...this is  
called the Receptive Viewpoint, and we wrote in the Receptive View  
from 1974 until 1984. A whole 10 to 12 years...our documents were  

Then something changed. There were 10 ASL signers who worked with  
me...One was hearing born into a Deaf family, and everyone else was  
Deaf. They became very skilled at writing SignWriting by hand,  
because we had no computers and I hired them to write a newspaper in  
ASL, called the SignWriter Newspaper. We wrote the Newspaper in the  

But as the Deaf adults became skilled at writing SignWriting, they  
felt very strongly that they wanted to write the signs from their own  
point of view...they wanted to Express themselves, and wanted to  
write  without having to switch right side with left side in their they requested that we change from the Receptive to the  

So it was skilled Deaf adults who had been writing by hand for a long  
time, on a daily basis, that told us we should write in the  
Expressive and we have done that ever since...

SignWriting can be written either way, and please tell us how all  
this goes...I am very interested!

Have a great meeting -

Val ;-)
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