SignText: Editing Jack and Jill

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Sat Jul 8 16:04:12 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
July 8, 2006

Cherie Wren wrote:
> signing as if to the kids--  my face is smiling,
> excited, eyebrows up...

Wow. This is so cool! You and Darline Gunsauls sign to kids the same  
way! With an open smile, not the closed smile I wrote...this is great!

Facial expressions in SignWriting are very important. But which  
facial expressions you choose to write, depends on the purpose of the  
document. Some people choose to write mouth movements related to  
speech-mouthing, as you know, for example in northern Europe, and  
that is very important too...but here in the US we tend to write  
other facial expressions, more attached to the feeling or mood of the  
signer...This developed over time, as our Deaf DAC members wrote  
their own literature by hand directly in their native ASL...I noticed  
that the facial expressions they chose to write were not always the  
ones that hearing linguists, for example, would choose...

Darline contributed three developments to the writing of ASL  
literature for Deaf children...

1. Established that the smiling face would indicate to the reader  
that "this is a children's story" by using smiling faces throughout  
the document...(whenever other faces are not required for linguistic  

2. Writing mime-like facial expressions for intonation.
The choice of mime-like expression when writing children's stories,  
that are not necessarily linguistically required, but are needed to  
convey the "feeling" of signing. For example, what is the feeling of  
going up that hill? Are they burdened by it, are they annoyed by it,  
or are they happy? Sign literature actually captures more intonation  
and more feeling than spoken languages I bet you have a  
facial expression for the sign for going up the hill?

3. Darline also chose to use colored symbols, for children, to learn  
the difference between hands, movement etc...Although the  
standardized color system was something we had developed before I  
knew Darline, Darline was the first person to use it children's we could try that if you wish later...

Here are the three versions of the beginning phrase...(see  
attached)...I like the version 3 for the first two signs!!

But what about the sign for going up the hill?....look in the mirror  
at yourself, Cherie...what does your face look like when you sign  
that to children? I am sure my suggestion is not right, but I wanted  
to stimulate you to think about a facial expression for that sign?  
Val ;-)

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