Snail Mail

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Mar 7 00:35:23 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
March 6, 2006

Hello Frank, Charles and Steve!
Thanks so much for posting your messages

Interesting discussion!

And thank you, Frank, for sending me a draft of your book...I do not  
teach American Sign Language. I leave that to others. I just invented  
the symbols that are used to write many different signed ASL is only one of those languages. Once I receive  
your draft of your book that you sent me today, perhaps we can find a  
person to give you the feedback you need, related to teaching ASL,  
which is not my profession.

But what I can do is help you learn to use free software to create  
signs in SignWriting for your book...

If you want to try right now, go to this web page:

And drag and drop symbols from the Symbol Palette into the  
SignBox...have you created your own signs in SignWriting yet? If not,  
I am happy to help teach you how to do is a lot of fun!

Once you have created your sign, you can copy and paste it into  
Microsoft Word or other software that you use to prepare your you can prepare your own SignWriting diagrams for your book...

So ask questions anytime!

Val ;-)


On Mar 6, 2006, at 3:11 PM, Frank wrote:

> Dear Valorie,
>      I mailed the March edition of my "Basic ASL Dictionary" to you  
> at 3pm
> today;  it should be there by next Monday.  I chose the delux student
> binding for you, (LOL).  Its versatile, can occupy a number of  
> positions
> without identitiy confusion.  My target audience is people who wish  
> to begin
> learning to sign quickly.  I'll redraw some entries, rewrite the  
> front pages
> and acquire or write a synopsis of SignWriting for an Appendix 5  
> before I go
> to a Hard Cover edition.
>      Like Diderot and Voltaire, I think it would be good to have  
> necessary
> and sufficient information bound into one volume, and believe its  
> possible
> to do this for ASL.
>      Hoping your good work will be rewarding and satisfying this  
> week, I
> remain
> Yours truly,  Frank


On Mar 6, 2006, at 7:04 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:
> Hi Frank,
> FYI, the International Movement Writing Alphabet isn't finished  
> yet.  Valerie works with all of the world's sign languages, not  
> just ASL.  There is more than enough information on  
> to adequately explain SignWriting.  And Val has more ongoing  
> projects than is reasonable.
> The idea you had for a book sounds like a great idea.  Probably  
> about 3 years worth of work.  If you're really interested in this  
> type of book would you be more willing to spend your time or your  
> money?    If you're willing to spend your time, may I suggest a  
> book called "How to Write Fast (While Writing Well)" by David  
> Fryxell.  If you're willing to spend your money, Valerie runs a non- 
> profit which accepts donations (tax deductible even).  If Valerie  
> could hire a personal assistant and a writer, the project you  
> suggested might be feasible.
> Regards,
> -Steve


On Mar 6, 2006, at 5:01 AM, Charles Butler wrote:
> Hi Frank,
> I can teach the basic concept of writing sign in about 10 lessons,  
> starting with a box shape, and walking through each finger  
> combination, rotation, and movement.  The handshapes of ASL are  
> around 45 or so (with classifiers slightly more), three planes of  
> movement, (and diagonals) and the straight lines, circles, types of  
> touching.  Facial expressions you learn as you go, but five or six  
> get one started.  Once you hit unusual languages, like Ethiopian,  
> with a syllabary, there are more handshapes, Libras has about the  
> same number as ASL.
> A child who knows sign can read within one hour, and some signs in  
> less than a minute (you can't do that with English).
> Stokoe is not built for multiple signed languages, SignWriting is.   
> I teach people how to write movement, and the converntions are not  
> that hard.
> !
> One learns by doing, and I can still read stuff I wrote in the  
> 1980s, cold.
> Writing for oneself opens a person's mind to wonder, and a patient  
> teacher loves to see the lights go off in a person's eyes.
> Valerie's Basic Lessons in Sign Writing cover all the basics.  It's  
> not one piece of paper, but it's close.  I put together a Learning  
> Wheel as an exercise in Brazil, and all of the concepts of Sign  
> Writing can be placed on a single disk around 6 inches across,  
> double sided.
> Take it as a challenge for yourself, Frank, to create the resource  
> you need, a simple summary of sign writing, and a set of  
> "convention lessons".  Every teacher teaches differently, take it  
> as a symbol of trust in the Sign Wriitng community that we will  
> help you edit it, but a labor of love has far more value than money.
> Charles Butler



> Frank <frankbyrom at> wrote:
> Dear Valerie,
>      Your work is unquestionably of value to many of us.  It  
> appears to me that a primary thought concerning learning might help  
> many of us.  It involves answering the questions What do you mean,  
> and how do you write what you mean?  It also involves the way that  
> people learn most quickly and surely.
>      As I scan the letters forwarded to me, I continually see the  
> questions, " What does that mean and How do I write this movement?   
> A mother can answer some questions of this type for her child.   
> Beyond a small family, a single person canNOT answer all these  
> questions that spring from the misunderstandings of people, no  
> matter how dedicated that faithful person may be.  I've seen a  
> hundred excited , interested people drop out of learning Sign for  
> lack of an answer to this basic need in the life of the learner.   
> These hundred drop outs were the students who began study of ASL  
> with me.  I'm convinced I would have noticed hundreds of drop outs  
> had I looked farther.  The primary thought I speak of is this:
>      Beyond the physical needs, Self Image, the need to be, or feel  
> as if we are of value, and needed by other people is perhaps the  
> greatest need in in our lives.  How do we fill this need?  We fill  
> the need by our competance in doing what we do.  Teach a person how  
> t! o say, or sign, "Pass the butter, How are you, Its Tuesday, etc  
> and you set them up on shifting sand with a feeling of  
> helplessness.  They don't know what to do next.  Each move they  
> make drives them deeper into the sand, discovering how to say what  
> they want to say costs more than they get by saying it.    In the  
> case of learning a language, only the person who has the right  
> answers, or a means of independently obtaining the right answers  
> all the time will learn the language.  This applies to a language  
> which is spoken or written.  SignWriting is a written language.
>      Your learners and I require ALL THE SIGNWRITING SYMBOLS, and  
> ALL THE WRITING CONVENTIONS in one resource location so we can go  
> to that resource for our answers.  In this resource ALL THE CLEAR  
> symbols.  Basic English, as I have said, can be written! on one  
> side of one piece of paper, Dr Stokoe's notation symbols can also  
> be written on one side of one piece of paper, as I have  
> demonstrated in my letter to you.  Clear definitions of these  
> symbols, what they mean expressed in lucid sentences or other  
> expressive manner need to be with the symbols.  This will answer  
> the questions "What do you mean? and How do you write what you  
> mean."   Coequal with this need is the need to have the vocabulary  
> that will say everything the person wants to day.  The 850 english  
> concepts I cited, the Ogden Basic English, will do the work of  
> 20,000 English words.  These basic concepts and the manner they are  
> drawn in SignWriting will allow the learner to say and sign what  
> the learner wants to sign, the way they want to say and sign and  
> write it.  The self image that goes with this competance will power  
> the person to grow in ability and become what they can be---if they  
> chose to do this.
>      The self Image that flows from the power of knowing and  
> knowing how to obtain knowledge is the magic of learning that  
> creates scholars.  Some people WILL not be stopped.  Pointing to  
> them is lying in the face of reality.  Not everyone has this drive,  
> and who has it rarely has it in every direction.
>      Admittedly, many of the 850 words I cited have more than one  
> meaning, some have up to 6 or more meanings.  Many of these  
> meanings are signed differently.  Nevertheless, knowing one manner  
> of signing, or writing the  concepts will allow the person to be  
> self expressive-although sometimes awkwardly to the understanding  
> of a native Deaf ASL user.
>      Love, Frank
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