MOUTH Cheeva and Cha

Frank frankbyrom at ISP.COM
Wed Mar 1 03:15:57 UTC 2006

Hi Val,
   I was into your sign puddle  ASL dictionary and the 12 page SignWriting
symbol definition sheets you sent me today.
I'm beginnning to read your symbols more easily, and infer theory behind
symbols.  Now I've finished entering reference citations for my dictionary
sample space, I have more time to sample your work.
   Personally, I found transitioning to think with you in terms of your
symbolization a bit ragged.  Somehow I didn't notice, in your web site, an
intro passage that conditioned my thinking to see what you've done and how
you think when you write.  I've included an intro passage of the type I
referred to above to show you what I mean.  Its the first page of my:
                                                  Dr William C. Stokoe Jr.
ASL Script
You'll forgive me,I hope, for not having Dr. Stokoe's symbols I left spaces
for in this passage. My scanner's on my laptop; the desktop I write with
doesn't have the soft (grey) ware yet to recognize what the scanner the
scanner sees.  I bet you could fill in the blanks from memory.

Appendix  2
                                                  Dr William C. Stokoe Jr.
ASL Script
     Dr. Stokoe's notation for ASL, like the Basic English word list, can be
written on one side of a sheet of paper.  The symbols he used are
pictographic and easily remembered, once seen and used.  Refer to the
symbols on page 3 as you read this explanation.  Notice the four columns,
labeled Tab, Dez, Sig and Writing Conventions, with 12, 19, 24 and 20
symbols respectively.  The total is 75 symbols.  This seems to be a large
number of symbols until examined.  Nineteen symbols are simply the alphabet
letters.   The following capital letters are not used by Dr. Stokoe:  Disc
Jockey MeN Probably Question STUdenZ .  He chose to use the other 16 letters
of the alphabet, excluded DJMHPQSTUZ.  He included with the alphabet
letters, two numbers and a

symbol for an allocher of the letter Y,  O .
  Notice that Dr. Stokoe includes 5, 3, and O with the alphabet letters.
You know the signs for  5,

3, and the alphabet.  O    is an allocher, a variation of the letter Y sign,
perhaps with the middle

finger extended as when you sign prefer,              , or with the index
finger extended while making

 the Y sign, as in the sign for  "I love you".  The remaining symbols are
engagingly simple, as

for whole head,          upper head,          lower head,          nose,
torso,          upper arm and

          lower arm.  Subtracting the 19 symbols cited leaves only 56
symbols to consider.  My glossary with definitions, pages 4,5,6 of this
appendix shows the meanings of all  the symbols.

For directions like up          ,down          , left           ,right
, you probably recognize meanings from their shapes.  When the number of
obvious  symbols are, subtracted, 47 symbols  remain to

consider, symbols like            , for nodding, as when YES is written,
,  or           for circular

movement as in writing ALL,                                ; but even these
are easy to recoginize after being seen and used once or twice.  The order
of symbols in notations is Tab Dez and then Sig from left to right.
Variations in signing exist; but location of signs is relatively constant.
Dr. Stokoe notes this by saying, for example, boy or man is signed
, near the upper head,

and ADVERTISEMENT is signed                            , in the neutral
space before the body.  The 12

Tab signs,           ,           , etc., show areas where signs are located.

   When the 19 alphabet and the 12 Tab signs are deducted from the 74 total
,we have remaining

44 signs to learn.  These signs show movement and relationship, for example,
is the notation for sweet.  The G hand brushes down across the lower face
(lips),  Notice the form; Tab, Dez Sig.  This is the order elements of a
sign are written in.  Tab, Dez, and Sig refer to Place, Hand Shape, and
Movement. These are three elements of a particular sign in the gestural
language we call Sign.
   The TABula shows the location, DEZignator gives hand shape, and SIGnation
shows movement. Conventions of writing modify the Tab,Dez,Sig and express
relatonships.   That's the alpha to omega of Stokoe notation.  It's easy to
use.  In the Stokoe script for beautiful,

the 5 hand circles the face, closing (      ) to an A hand.  The writing
convention that separates

two parts of a sign is           .  The dot,          , over the A  (A)
shows the thumb is prominent.  The

thumb is prominent in the sign for girl,             .  Notice that some
writing convention symbols,

       ,        ,         ,         , are the same as SIGnation symbols,
contracting,          , as in beautiful,
for example.
   This notation is not perfect; but the analysis of placement, handshape
and motion is powerful.  Using the index of meanings, page three, and my
drawings now, compare the notations below my drawings to see how Stokoe
notation can be used to write ASL signs.  Is there only one way to write a
sign?  Ask  Erskine Caldwell, James Joyce and Hawthorne to describe a scene,
and compare what they say.  Right!  There are at least two ways to write
every sign.  This is one power of Dr. Stokoe's notation  you can write the
sign as you do it, and then compare this to how
your best authority says sign it.  Like English, symbols often have several
meanings,          for

example may mean repeat, as in frequently                      , pominent
thumb as in girl,

, or emphasis as in                 , strict

   I believe you'll find this notation easy and simple to use.  It records
enough information to cause remembering a sign without being bulky and
unmanageable, and expresses units of information in Sign much like our
alphabet expresses words, units of information in our spoken language.  If
you carefully read this introduction again, and each definition of meaning
for the symbols, you'll discover, I believe, this sign notation system is
quite usable.  When writing a sign new to you, include a gloss (English
meaning) with notations until the sign is comfortable in your memory.  ASL
Notations, like our alphabetic writing, are intended to cause recall of
what is already known to us, not, usually, to introduce new concepts.
Refering to the symbol definitions as you examine the script under  drawings
of  signs may sometimes be helpful  in gaining a rapid mastery off this ASL
script.  Dr.Stokoe's Dictionary (see my Bibliography) and some other of his
works also present his ASL script in a detailed fashion.
   Just as a dictionary does not present a full gramatical analysis of the
language it lists morphemes of (units of meaning, words), I will not include
the full range of writing conventions of

Dr. Stokoe here.  Several,         , for example, as in the script for
BEAUTIFUL, and        , as in the script for girl are worth mentioning.
When the 5 hand closes in the sign for "BEAUTIFUL" , "contracting",  it may
close to the form of an A or an O.  The bracketed A shows that A is the
final hand shape.  Sig symbols that are written one over the other one show
relationships and  movements that are done together.  The touch and the down
movement, in the script for girl is an

example of this,                .  A symbol near the Dez shows a starting
position, as in THIN,                  when the "G"  hand straddles the nose
to start, and then moves downward during the sign.

  Sincerely yours, Frank

   ----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Valerie Sutton" <sutton at>
To: <sw-l at>
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 5:14 PM
Subject: Re: [sw-l] MOUTH Cheeva and Cha

> SignWriting List
> February 28, 2006
> > Adam Frost in California wrote:
> > 4 is a smile and 6 is an open smile. I think that 5 is a smile that
> > is forced? At least that is what it looks like to me.
> Correct! The second row, reading from left to right, are
> 4. Closed Smile
> 5. Closed Smile with wrinkles at the sides of the mouth
> 6. Open Smile
> Number 5 is interesting. Why does a person have wrinkles at the side
> of a smile? If they are young and have good skin (smile) they
> probably are a little tense while smiling, or otherwise there would
> not be wrinkles at the side of the by adding wrinkles, you
> add the feeling of a little more tension or emphasis on that
> smile...I used those wrinkles near a smile for some of the poetry
> where Kevin was smiling, but establishing a classifier in space and
> there was a little tension on his smile, to show that anchoring...
> The next row of faces is the same except it is a frown instead of a
> smile...
> The fourth row....Adam...How do you read the fourth row?


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