Different finger pos

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Mon Sep 18 16:51:16 UTC 2006

SignWriting List
September 18, 2006

On Sep 18, 2006, at 8:48 AM, Sebastian Waschik wrote:
> Also ich meine die Symbol 018 und 009 (Seite 71+70).  Ob Symbol 018
> identisch ist mit 009, wenn man den Daumen weglässt.  Wenn die gleich
> sind, hat mich etwas irritiert, dass das eine Symbol gebogene  
> Linien hat
> und das andere eckige.  Aber vielleicht denke ich auch etwas  
> anders ;-)
> und vor mir hatte noch keiner das Problem.  Die Symbole sind natürlich
> im IMWA genauso.

AltaVista Babel translation of the German above:
Thus I mean those symbol 018 and 009 (page 71+70). Whether symbol is  
identical 018 with 009, if one omits the thumb. If is alike, somewhat  
it irritated me that symbol has curved lines and the other angular.  
Perhaps but I think also somewhat differently; -) and before me still  
no the problem had. The symbols are naturally in the IMWA exactly the  


Hello Sebastian and Stefan!
So glad you are responding to each other in German and keep going...I  
love it!

I will just insert one thought to explain...

Technically the symbols have a tiny bit of meaning difference...the  
curved ones are curved fingers, and the others are bent in tighter  
way....very tight bend versus a relaxed more curved bend...

SignWriting is handwritten around the world and began as a  
handwritten system...Computers came into the picture later in  
SignWriting development.

But when signers wrote by hand years ago, these tiny differences were  
not as obvious, because you know how messy any handwriting can  
be?...but in computers we can really see the differences in a sharper  

Technically every bend of every finger could have two variations in  
the IMWA...there could always be a tight-bend and a relaxed-curved- 
bend for every handshape that has bent fingers...that would certainly  
be more consistent. But it would also add a huge amount of symbols to  
the IMWA...and most signed languages do not need all those variations  
for daily writing...

So why did we choose some to be curved and others to be bent tightly?  
Because when we looked at people's handwritten notes in ASL and DSL... 
(American Sign Language and Danish Sign Language)...the two signed  
languages we wrote first with SignWriting back in the 1980's...those  
were the choices people seemed to choose...and meanwhile our software  
had memory limitations years ago, so we chose one or the other based  
on usage...

Is that consistent? No. But have you seen written English lately?  
Nothing can be more inconsistent than the English writing system,  
when it comes to spellings and choices of sound-writing-combinations!

That is not an excuse, just to give you perspective...I know in  
Germany you have an excellent way to spell your spoken-language-words  
that is more consistent than English, so it is understandable that  
you want consistency...

In time I suppose we could add all those variations to the IMWA, and  
then experts in each country would have to decide which symbols they  
want to use for their specific signed languages...this will take  
time, so for now, when you write by hand, you can write as you  
wish...it is only the computers that are limited!

Val ;-)

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