Adding new symbols to the ISWA

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Fri Jul 6 14:59:26 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
July 6, 2007

Thank you, Cherie, for these comments! See mine below....

On Jul 6, 2007, at 5:36 AM, CWren at wrote:
> Regarding adding/not adding new symbols
>  I understand the desire to keep the symbol set smaller and more  
> manageable, but I would prefer to have all the symbols I need, and  
> not use those I don't need, than not have one I need.  Minor  
> changes in movement have large impact on meaning, in some cases.   
> Theses two instances are technically the same sign, but there is a  
> different meaning conveyed by the larger arrow.  In the one with  
> the 3/4 arrow, mom is gone -all day-.  In the constructed one, we  
> have to sit in the house -ALL bloody long, boring day-.  I probably  
> should have included a 'slow' symbol in the constructed one,  
> opposite the fast, because that fast start/slow finish also adds to  
> the meaning of long and boring...  I will go back and add it.
> At some point (waaaaay in the future) it might help to separate out  
> symbols into language sets, to help with what Stefan sees as the  
> problem that with too many symbols no one but specialists will  
> understand them all.  Then I wouldn't have to puzzle out strange  
> handshapes that I can't even make my hands do...  ::grin::  The IPA  
> isn't used to write newspapers, and while I'm sure all those IPA  
> symbols must somehow be type-able from my computer keyboard-- I  
> don't know how to do it.  I have the ones I need to write my  
> language easily accessible, and I know where they all are. I would  
> guess computer keyboards in German or French have symbols easily  
> accessible that mine does not, because your languages have symbols  
> that mine does not; umlauts, accents and such.  Some of the things  
> on the SignPuddle interface, to be honest, I have no clue what they  
> are, and I can't always remember under which arrow the certain kind  
> of rotation I am looking for hides.  But I think limiting the  
> symbol set for the sake of simplicity limits what I can  'type' in  
> SW.  Most of the time, sure, I can use a simpler arrow and it won't  
> affect what I am trying to communicate, but there will be some  
> times where I just flat out have to have that bigger arrow, or that  
> angled rotation, or meaning is lost.  I can write in simpler  
> English too, but sometimes I prefer to pull out the fancy words so  
> I can capture that subtle nuance...  ::grin::
> So, Stefan, I respectfully disagree.  I think limiting the symbol  
> set simply for the sake of keeping numbers (and thereby confusion)  
> down is a mistake in the long run.  I think if it becomes  
> necessary, then separating out the symbols used in one Sign  
> Language from those used in others will be a more effective way to  
> do the same thing. ( Even though that really effects handshapes  
> more than movements.)

Your idea about separating out specific symbols for specific signed  
languages, is exactly what my hope is for the future, so "all the  
symbols from the ISWA" will never overwhelm people...

So I actually think that we all are in agreement more than we may  

We need BOTH an "IPA" for all signed languages, PLUS specific symbols  
just for one signed language:

International SignWriting Alphabet

plus based on the ISWA, we can specify:

DGS SignWriting Alphabet
ASL SignWriting Alphabet
Ethiopian SignWriting Alphabet

So if experts in one country know exactly what symbols they want, and  
what symbols they don't want, from the ISWA, we can make their  
SignPuddle only access that specific symbolset and not have the other  
symbols available...

OK. Back to editing. Thanks for your feedback!

Val ;-)

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