Snail Mail

Frank frankbyrom at ISP.COM
Tue Mar 7 05:22:21 UTC 2006

Dear Val, Steve and Charles,
     Yes I've been writing, Val.  Much of what you've created that I've seen is well chosen.  When I'd surveyed the dictionary, noting the notation for a number of signs I knew, I was able to write simple signs.  I like pen and paper, Val.  The freedom is unparalled.  I'd love to learn from you.  I queried you for my new appendix because I see no point in reinventing the wheel.  I could; but I can go farther and faster on the magic carpet woven by my peers before me.  My own strand of carpet, the one I'll add, is  but a mite of contribution, it may add horsepower to the carpet or perhaps give clearer vision to fellow travelors.  Allow them to see where they're going better, and get there more quickly.  Acquire new languages more quickly than by conventional methods, which as I've pointed out, tend to create failures not scholars.  I'll go to the site you cited when I set this note down, or perhaps give it wings to fly to you.  I'll also enter the ring to wrestle with your host of puddles, sign boxes, and web sites.  They don't look so tough;  If they come too close, I'll have to call their bluff.  I'll weave them into my matt of understanding, see how they like it there.  Sometimes words have to be shown their place.
     I reviewed "How to Write Fast"  by Fryxell, Steve.  Thanks for your suggestion.  He speaks to an issue, a topic I feel comfortable with.  I've trained for some time to walk this High Wire of Literacy.  Now its time for the big show.  Time for me to walk the line.  I've come off the wire several times so far, and discovered that I bounce rather high.  Its no longer I that walk--the wire passed under my feet now when I bid it to.  I walk the wire for my pleasure.  I write for myself.  I know that people will come to see the show, how I walk the line, how I write.   About 1960 the New York Public Library ordered two of my early publications, in 1974 a Major University invited me to teach after seeing an incomplete volume I was working on.  Now I'm irritated by some shabby practices in schools under the pretence of teaching languages.   I intend to make them feel the point of my pen, when its too late for them to avoid it.. 
     I've completed my "Basic ASL Dictionary", Steve.  It took me three years to write.  Now I plan to add a precis of SignWriting as a fifth Appendix, hopefully before I release my first hard bound edition of the work.  Good minds, using the same language, come to very similar conclusions.  My Synoptic view of SignWriting would be much the same as that of another clear thinker.  I see no point repeating creation of a good synopsis; this would be like rebuilding part of our culture already sound.  If I don't identify one soon, I suppose I will sit down to do this, and hope I can be as complete and accurate as one who has preceeded me in using SignWriting.   
    , Charles.  I suspect that the 15 minute attention span of the child probably persists through the ages of man, actually.  I've found that rapid learning appears to be the best type.  I've noted, with rapid learning specialists before me, that three times more information is retained when its liked to visual images than when its coded in words.  Your teaching and the way you approach presenting SignWriting sounds interesting to me.  I hope I may have an opportunity to learn more about your methods.  I'd love to see your "Learning Wheel".
   Sincerely,  Frank
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Valerie Sutton 
  To: sw-l at 
  Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 7:35 PM
  Subject: Re: [sw-l] Snail Mail

  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
    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.



  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 DEFINITIONS OF THE SYMBOLS AND CONVENTIONS need to be with the 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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