Adding new symbols to the ISWA

Ingvild Roald iroald at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 10 11:06:31 UTC 2007

As to symbols for each S-langugage: what symbols we want/ need, we will know 
when we have written a lot into the dictionaries. At least, as handshapes 
go. For movements, I think we will all need a lot, and I still opt for a 
'tool-box' for constructing what we do not have. How about quater-circles 
without arrowheads, that can be rotated into 8 positions and adjusted to 
three sizes - sigle and double stemmed - and arrowheads with no stem? That 
would make the construction work easy. - But I know anything like this is a 
long way into the future, if ever.

My personal solution to the problem of not having the different sizes for 
curved movement, is to place the hand differently - on the outside, if the 
movement is large, on the inside if it is tiny, and at the beginning or end 
of the arrow if the movement fits the size of the arrow


>From: "Valerie Sutton" <signwriting at MAC.COM>
>Reply-To: sw-l at
>To: sw-l at
>Subject: [sw-l] Adding new symbols to the ISWA
>Date: Fri, 6 Jul 2007 07:59:26 -0700
>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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