Role shifting

Stuart Thiessen sw at PASSITONSERVICES.ORG
Tue Jul 10 20:49:55 UTC 2007

Personally, I like the unit lines and I would disagree (no offense,  
Valerie :) ) that it creates a feel of a "linguistic notation  
system". If a facial expression continues over a sequence of signs,  
then we have two choices. We can either write each face or we can  
write it as being "spread across" that sequence of signs. To me, it  
is no different than quotation marks, parathenses, and other such  
marks that spoken languages use everyday. In many cases, I would  
predict it will be used for limited and specific situations like yes- 
no questions, questions like who, what, where, when, why, or other  
similar situations. Even Spanish has something like that when they do  
questions like ┬┐Como esta usted?

I personally find it a very simple way to reduce the number of heads  
I have to use in a sequence of signs if it will be the same across  
those signs. If it will vary, then I write them individually.



On 10 Jul 2007, at 13:12, Adam Frost wrote:

> I just used it as a way to show that a facial expression and  
> whatnot is consistant over a couse of signs, but you are right that  
> is loses the feel of being an everyday writing system. I will think  
> on this some for ideas. :-)
> Adam
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "Valerie Sutton" <signwriting at MAC.COM>
> Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 11:04:44
> To:sw-l at
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] Role shifting
> SignWriting List
> July 10, 2007
> Hello Adam and Cherie!
> I noticed the Unit Lines that you wrote Adam, and actually was
> planning to bring that up later ;-))
> Of course it is great you bring the subject up...
> Unit Lines are used for research documents that are trying to show
> the influence of one symbol on another...and I did use them myself in
> slightly different ways over the years...they actually stem from
> DanceWriting that uses music...and because of that, they do not
> really look like the rest of SignWriting for everyday use...
> When we try to bring the writing system from the research lab, into
> the everyday reading library for signers, I think the Unit Line does
> not look like a writing system, but instead a notation system...and I
> choose not to use it.
> So for detailed work, of course the Unit Lines can continue to be
> used, but I personally vote to not use them for Deaf children in the
> Cat in the Hat...
> So of course that leaves the question...then how do we write role
> shifting without them?...
> I believe there are ways already developed to do it, although it will
> start one more big conversation here on the List, and I am not sure
> my health can handle too much stress right now...but if we can take
> it slowly...I am happy to engage...
> Val ;-)
> On Jul 10, 2007, at 10:51 AM, Adam Frost wrote:
>> This is just a quick note on your question, Cherie, about writing
>> role shifts. I had written it with in my writing of Cat in the Hat
>> on SignPuddle. I don't know if I used the unit line correctly
>> because I couldn't connect it. I hope it is clear. Maybe that will
>> give you some ideas.
>> Adam
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: cwren at
>> Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 08:27:04
>> To:sw-l at, sutton at
>> Subject: [sw-l] Cat in the Hat 13
>> "Now look what you did!"
>> Said the fish to the cat.
>> "Now look at this house!
>> Look at this! Look at that!
>> You sank our toy ship,
>> sank it deep in the cake.
>> You shook up our house
>> And you bent our new rake.
>> You SHOULD NOT be here
>> When our mother is not.
>> You get out of this house!"
>> Said the fish in the pot.
>> I've got some serious doubt popping up about roleshifting, and how
>> I'm showing it... Do I need to show the eye gaze and shoulder shift
>> with each sign? I have been putting more eye gaze in here thean I
>> did before... Also when I am shifted to one sign, and signing right
>> like in this passage for example, I have been writing the signs off
>> to the right... which makes some signs more difficult to write.
>> Should I be keeping them centered on the face, as if my shoulders
>> were square, but putting in the shoulder lines?
>> cherie

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