facial expressions

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Sat Jul 8 21:00:16 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
July 8, 2006

>> you can be assured that facial expressions are very important to us
>> all over Europe.
>> Its just that many non-deaf professionals have failed to put the
>> stress on the facial expressions - that 80% of the language is in  
>> your
>> face - and I am glad youre one of the few non-deaf professionals who
>> realises how important the facial expressions are to one's signed
>> language :-)
>> Shane

Hello Shane, Stefan, Ingvild, everyone!

Thank you for these comments. 80 percent on the face? wow...that is  
really a lot isn't it? I didn't know that statistic but it makes sense..

Did you know that I started writing facial expressions first, before  
handshapes?...later I found out that most people wanted handshapes  
first, so I placed them first in the IMWA but originally I had  
planned to place Facial Expressions before handshapes in the IMWA  
because they seemed more important to me...

Yes Facial Expressions are very important to all Sign Languages of  
Northern Europe and everywhere...That is why it is so great that you  
are starting to use SignWriting in your country now, so that Deaf  
people can start writing their own documents, including the Facial  
Expressions that they feel are important. Darline, an ASL Deaf  
native, chose to write different facial expressions than some  
linguists would have chosen...that was my point.. that when Deaf  
people start writing their own language, they can pin down what is  
important and what is not...

And I don't want to speak for any of you...let me just tell you a  
side story...

When I went to the NAD Conference recently I was nervous...and my  
friends helped me feel brave again. Why was I nervous? Because I was  
afraid my ASL has a hearing accent and I wanted so much to represent  
SignWriting from the Deaf perspective...which I simply cannot because  
I was born hearing...but deep underneath I am the Deaf people's  
biggest friend...some may not realize that...and I know that...that  
is why I am so grateful to Stuart, Philippe and Adam for representing  
all of us at the NAD... and Shane...you would have loved it! I felt  
so loved when I arrived there...and there were no problems and my  
fear was not necessary! And I embraced old Deaf friends and I felt  
really accepted and appreciated...

This was such a positive experience at the NAD that I feel that, with  
the leaders of the Deaf Community working with hearing people like  
myself, as a team, we really can accomplish something...


But guess what? Your work in Europe in Summer 2005 had an influence  
on our acceptance at the NAD Conference!

There are several stories about that, but here is one connected with  
Facial Expressions:

At the NAD I went to different Exhibit booths, and I stopped at one  
for parents of Deaf children who use American Sign Language. The  
teacher at the booth was Deaf . I found out later from Adam, that she  
is well known in the Deaf Education profession.

I started to tell her about SignWriting, assuming she did not know  
about it, only to find that she stopped me immediately, and she said  
in ASL....

"OH. I know SignWriting!" with a big grin! I said "Really"...How?"  
did you find it on the internet?" I asked.

"Oh no!" she said "I personally saw a keynote presentation by a  
teacher in Germany at the Maastricht Conference for Deaf Education in  
2005, and I was stunned at the success with the Deaf children in the  
German teacher's video presentation"...

So I explained that I knew Stefan and yes...that is an amazing  
presentation...and she said in ASL to me "Oh. It was more than just  
an amazing presentation. It changed my mind about SignWriting because  
I could see that it could be used in different classroom settings in  
different ways!"..."and, she said, the facial expressions can be used  
in different ways for storytelling, or for education, and that is  
what really impressed me!"... (I felt so proud to know you, Stefan!!)

So we started to talk about the importance of writing Facial  
Expressions! Thank you, Stefan, for giving me such a positive  

She then this Deaf professor invited us to write an article for her  
Deaf Teacher's publication here in the US...so I had planned to tell  
you all about this later. So Summer 2005 in Europe is having a  
positive effect on Summer 2006 in the US!

Thanks again for your comments -

Val ;-)


On Jul 8, 2006, at 12:58 PM, Shane Gilchrist O hEorpa wrote:

> Val,
> im in Northern Europe myself :-)
> When Stef gave his talk on the "mouth patterns" at last year's ESWS,
> several participants disagreed with him in private and came to me
> about it - i had to explain that at Stef's school, they have a strong
> oral policy where children are encouraged to use their Spoken German
> and Stef cannot go and rebel against the system or he ll lose his job
> :-)
> you can be assured that facial expressions are very important to us
> all over Europe.
> Its just that many non-deaf professionals have failed to put the
> stress on the facial expressions - that 80% of the language is in your
> face - and I am glad youre one of the few non-deaf professionals who
> realises how important the facial expressions are to one's signed
> language :-)
> Shane
> On 08/07/06, Valerie Sutton <signwriting at mac.com> wrote:
>> SignWriting List
>> July 8, 2006
>> Thank you, Erika, Stefan and Ingvild!
>> This is good to know...you never know because I do get some people
>> complaining privately about too much email and I certainly respect
>> that too...but hopefully people can learn how to filter their email
>> so only some messages that they really are interested in, will be
>> there for them..smile...
>> Yes...the issues of facial expressions are fascinating because the
>> native Deaf who were writing our first long documents by hand back in
>> the 1980's chose different facial expressions than a lot of linguists
>> would have assumed...and then in the 1990's Darline and Kevin and
>> Dave all did the same and so I feel there is something to this...
>> On the other hand I also can see, because Stefan and Ingvild educated
>> me to this fact, that northern Europe might be different...so we
>> cannot make a blanket statement that all countries or all cultures,
>> or even all documents within one culture, will choose the same facial
>> expressions...I believe it may be quite varied depending on the
>> purpose of the document...documents can be targeted to different
>> audiences...smile...
>> Val ;-)
>> On Jul 8, 2006, at 12:24 PM, eghoffma at UMICH.EDU wrote:
>> > I just wanted to also note that I find these discussions
>> > fascinating. It's so interesting to watch different ideas about
>> > literacy and script emerge. For example, I've been following the
>> > discussion about facial expression and audience with great interest
>> > so I'd hate to lose the chance to observe the editing of Jack and
>> > Jill.
>> > Best,
>> > Erika
>> >
>> > Quoting Stefan Wöhrmann <stefanwoehrmann at GEBAERDENSCHRIFT.DE>:
>> >
>> >> Hi Valerie and listmembers,
>> >>
>> >> I am sorry to tell you that I feel surprised to read this message.
>> >>
>> >>> From my point of view it would be a pity to miss these fruitful
>> >>> discussions
>> >> which will lead to some kind of spelling agreement. And it is very
>> >> much this
>> >> process that goes along with creating a new published document.
>> >> While you
>> >> are discussing I myself try to solve the problem my way or try to
>> >> figure out
>> >> what might probably look different in the end ... So this reading
>> >> of these
>> >> editing - messages are a great opportunity to learn!!
>> >>
>> >> I guess that other sw-list members follow these discussions with
>> >> great
>> >> attention and interest as well.
>> >>
>> >> So all I can tell - I am still very much interested to develop a
>> >> higher
>> >> level in spelling, and SignText Editing and creating documents
>> >> with other
>> >> programs compared to SW44 --
>> >>
>> >> The number of emails should not be a critical aspect since anybody
>> >> could
>> >> press the delete button so quickly if he is not interested in this
>> >> message -
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> What do you think?  Can you change your mind?
>> >>
>> >> Stefan ;-))
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> -----Ursprüngliche Nachricht-----
>> >> Von: owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
>> >> [mailto:owner-sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu] Im Auftrag von
>> >> Valerie Sutton
>> >> Gesendet: Freitag, 7. Juli 2006 18:51
>> >> An: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
>> >> Betreff: [sw-l] Editing SignWriting Literature, email overload and
>> >> schedules
>> >> ;-)
>> >>
>> >> SignWriting List
>> >> July 7, 2006
>> >>
>> >> Dear SW List Members!
>> >> I can see how much email we all have. It has increased lately.
>> >> Sometimes the List works well. Sometimes email is lost. Lots of
>> >> information is flowing, but just like computers, our brains can
>> >> become clogged too!
>> >>
>> >> I am going to try to manage better now...so that all our work with
>> >> SignWriting is more peaceful...
>> >>
>> >> Cherie and I can edit her work off the List now, privately.  
>> That way,
>> >> we can finish the stories quietly and post them as finished  
>> stories
>> >> on the web for all of you to read and enjoy...
>> >>
>> >> If others want me to edit your work, I am happy to do it too,
>> >> privately off the List...I am creating a calendar with my
>> >> schedule...so you can see when I can schedule working with you  
>> in the
>> >> future...
>> >>
>> >> I will always be here, and you are welcome to post anytime...and I
>> >> hope you will!
>> >>
>> >> And questions about spellings are excellent...I am only taking the
>> >> editing of literature offline, to lessen the email load...
>> >>
>> >> Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
>> >>
>> >> Val ;-)
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >>
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
> -- 
> Shane Gilchrist Ó hEorpa D.D.
> Sign Language Centre Belfast Trust
> 15 Church Street
> Belfast BT1 1PG
> Northern Ireland

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