AW: [sw-l] Re: left, right and together arrows

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Mar 12 19:17:14 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
March 12, 2006

Stefan Wöhrmann in Germany wrote:
> Valerie shows an admirable tolerance and interest in discussing any  
> rule and
> writing style and new additiv So everybody might write just  
> as he/she
> feels like? Mh --- I have my doubts. If there is anything that  
> needs to be
> explained because of misunderstanding - no problem. But as far as I  
> see -
> there is no need to change anything with this general arrow -  
> indicating
> that both hands move as a unit. (= hands touch each other)

Hello Everyone, Stefan, Ingvild, Charles, Philippe...

Thank you, Stefan, for this very nice message. I appreciate your  
support for so many is a tightrope we walk  
together (smile)... but the writing system is quite stable now, and I  
am happy to see this...

The reason SignWriting is working, is because I truly have chosen, in  
the real sense, to make changes when it is clear that many people  
choose to write one way. If I did not have that flexible nature,  
SignWriting would not be used right now, because years ago, our  
writing system was not as good...the difference is enormous from 1974  
to 2004! Most of the input and changes have come about when I worked  
with Deaf people in the 1980s and 1990s, and actually Ingvild did  
help with a symbol...the Flat Hand. That is an example of the way  
SignWriting has improved...the Flat Hand started out in 1974 as a  
diamond, then we changed it to a square with a diamond tip, then we  
changed it to a rectangle, and then Ingvild and some others in Norway  
asked for a rectangle with a diamond tip...and that last symbol is  
what we use today...this shows why I respect and listen to those  
people who truly use SignWriting...Thank you, Ingvild! and thanks to  
all of you who have used SignWriting faithfully all these years..

What seems to be true now, which is so wonderful, is that SignWriting  
is not changing much appears to have become stable and I am  
happy to see that! That helps all of us!

So let me explain...I am not going to change the definition of the  
General Arrow in any of my textbooks...but I am going to try to  
explain it better, with better lessons about Overlapping Paths. I  
never explained it well enough before...

This does not mean, Ingvild, that your group in Norway cannot write  
classifiers with your specialized just means that I am  
not going to change the definitions officially, since I am a movement  
notator and not a linguist...Your group is taking it from the  
linguistic point of view and saying that certain linguistic  
characteristics, such as classifiers, feels better seeing the thing  
you are holding moving in a general way, and I am just saying that I  
do not know if Ethiopian classifiers would be written the same way,  
so in our general SignWriting system we will stick to these Movement  
Writing concepts:

dark arrow - Right Path
light arrow - Left Path
general arrow - Overlapping Paths

These are visual paths in the air, and have nothing to do with the  
concept of a classifier...

The general arrow has always been overlapping...My words were never  
clear enough I guess...I now think that the term Overlapping Path is  
better than Same Path...When two hands contact, and then move, their  
two arrows overlap...hence the General arrow...and there are a few  
other cases where the arrows overlap too...

So now...I will try to write an eLesson about this soon!!

THANK YOU to all of your for your wonderful input!

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at

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