Encyclopedia in American Sign Language
slevin at SIGNPUDDLE.NET
Sun Mar 11 14:03:37 UTC 2007
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Valerie Sutton wrote:
> Pharos and everyone!
> Just want to be sure you understand that SignWriting is free to use
> and is fully capable and fully free for use, as a translation and
> writing system for any signed language. I saw there were some comments
> on Wikipedia that need to be clarified, and of course I wanted to
> respond personally, but unfortunately, although I created a user name
> and password to post on Wikipedia, I simply cannot figure out how to
> post a response. If I click on Edit it looks like I would be changing
> other people's words? and that would not be proper...when all I want
> to do is comment to what was said...so I feel a little frustrated
> right now....
> You are welcome to post this message for me on Wikipedia...as you did
> before...thanks for that! And I am also sending this to the
> SignWriting List, which anyone can join by the way!
> To join the SignWriting List, go to:
> To clarify some misunderstandings in previous posts on Wikipedia...
> SignWriting is free for anyone to use daily, and they do! SignWriting
> is used around the world by thousands of people, to write some 40
> signed languages...It is not just for ASL!
> SignWriting is used, for example in Belgium to write both Flemish Sign
> Language and French-Belgian Sign Language, in Germany, to write DGS,
> in Norway, to write NTS and so forth...so ASL is only one of many
> languages written freely and openly and without restriction around the
> world, using SignWriting symbols.
> Plus our non-profit organization donates free SignWriting materials to
> classrooms with deaf students, if the teacher or administrators
> request the materials. And I print the books myself, and prepare the
> materials myself and ship them myself...it is a privilege for me to be
> able to share and give freely...
> SignWriting has never been restricted to anyone, and you all are
> welcome to enter our web site for free right now, and start writing
> documents and dictionaries. Go to:
> SignPuddle Online
> and scroll down and you will see flags for different countries. Click
> on a flag to start using dictionaries and writing your own documents
> in SignWriting.
> And NO ONE owns any language...languages are free for everyone to
> use...otherwise they would not be used!
> Writing systems are not languages themselves. Writing systems simply
> write languages that already exist. English was a spoken language long
> before it could be written...so the Roman Alphabet is not a
> language...it is an alphabet...that can be used to write languages
> such as Spanish and French too...and that is what SignWriting is
> like...it is an alphabet that can be used to write Danish Sign
> Language or ASL or other signed languages too...
> SignWriting is a way to write body movement, and is not specifically
> for any one sign language. It just writes the way the body looks while
> we sign, and it can be applied to any signed language in the world, or
> gestures or body language too..and as you know, we can also write
> dance and sports...last year I wrote skateboard moves...they were cool!
> Skateboard moves
> A lot of people assume that SignWriting started by writing ASL...but
> that is not true! It was developed to write Danish Sign Language
> first, at the University of Copenhagen in 1974 and 1975....Later we
> started writing other signed languages. The first writers of ASL were
> ten native signing Deaf people who worked with me as a team in the
> 1980's...In 1988 we formed the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
> (the DAC). All our materials that are published are signed by or
> written by or edited by Deaf skilled ASL signers.
> SignWriting does not change ASL...it preserves it by writing it down
> on paper. And I never personally write ASL unless it is from a
> videotape of a skilled ASL signer...I leave writing ASL directly to
> the skilled ASL signers...
> We have close to 500 SignWriting PDF files you all can download freely
> on our web site...did you know that? This year we are coming out with
> several new publications, including several children's stories written
> in ASL, and possibly the book of John, from the Bible...we have John
> chapters 1, 2, 3 and 14 completed, ready for editing now...that is
> And I believe the concept of writing or translating some encyclopedia
> or Wikipedia articles sounds like a great project to me! Maybe we can
> get some funding to give ASL authors and interpreters some part time
> employment...I hope so!
> Our new software, SignPuddle 1.5, is coming out shortly and we will
> announce it as soon as it is ready around April 1st...We are
> displaying the new software at the CUNY Sign Language Linguistic
> Conference held here in La Jolla, California, March 29-31, and I am
> teaching a free SignWriting software workshop on April 1st to anyone
> who would like to attend...
> If someone reading this on Wikipedia is attending the CUNY Conference
> anyway, and would like to attend the free SignWriting workshop on
> April 1st, contact me at:
> Sutton at SignWriting.org
> I look forward to meeting you!
> Thanks for your patience with me not being able to post to
> Wikipedia...I hope to learn one of these days!
> Val ;-)
> On Mar 9, 2007, at 4:42 PM, Pharos wrote:
>> Yes, we are hoping for a Wikipedia in written American Sign Language
>> in SignWriting, as you say. I agree with you that this this would be
>> a very historic development, and am gladdened at your enthusiasm for
>> the idea.
>> Your offer of directing funding toward developing the ASL Wikipedia is
>> very helpful, and will probably make approval much more likely (an ASL
>> Wikipedia was proposed once before but rejected). The Wikimedia
>> Foundation (which operates Wikipedia) probably cannot provide direct
>> support (other than hosting it online, of course), but I'm sure they
>> would be glad to help you in developing joint grants for the project.
>> I am only a volunteer editor, and not a member of Wikimedia's Board or
>> staff. If you are interested in talking with higher-up people for
>> grant purposes, I can direct you to the appropriate person.
>> Wikipedia has encyclopedias in many different languages, including
>> Chinese. Developing a system to represent SignWriting would probably
>> not be a big problem. It looks like you have a system at
>> http://signwriting.org/forums/software/swml/swml01.html that would
>> probably be appropriate for Wikipedia use. We might even have a
>> system for automatic translation between SignWriting and Stockoe, for
>> those used to that method. We already have something similar on the
>> Chinese Wikipedia, between "traditional Chinese" which is used in
>> Taiwan and Singapore, and "simplified Chinese" which is used in
>> mainland China.
>> I have posted a summary of your statements to the proposal page.
>> Thank you very much
>> On 3/9/07, Valerie Sutton <signwriting at mac.com> wrote:
>>> On Mar 9, 2007, at 2:00 PM, Pharos wrote:
>>> > I just wanted to clear this up. Wikipedia already has an article on
>>> > SignWriting, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SignWriting
>>> > What is being proposed is an entirely new Wikipedia, covering all the
>>> > topics any encyclopedia would, in American Sign Language, just as
>>> > there are Wikipedias in French ( http://fr.wikipedia.org/ ) and
>>> > Spanish ( http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/ ).
>>> > Please comment on the proposal page and sign up there if you are
>>> > interested in participating. It will only be created if a certain
>>> > number of people written sign language-users express interest.
>>> > Thanks.
>>> Hello Pharos -
>>> Are you asking us to write the Wikipedia in written American Sign
>>> Language in SignWriting? We can do that, and I would vote for that...
>>> Signing up for it would mean that someone who knows American Sign
>>> Language can write the articles in written SignWriting...and there
>>> are skilled people who can do that ...
>>> We have new software too, SignPuddle 1.5, that can produce written
>>> Sign Language Literature documents, and perhaps we can assist in
>>> creating the web pages needed...Is that what you are talking about?
>>> It is a huge job to translate a whole Wikipedia into any language,
>>> but it can be done ... we could start with a small portion of it and
>>> go from there...
>>> We have a little funding for producing written Sign Language
>>> literature right now, and we could apply that towards writing some
>>> articles for an encyclopedia and use that as a springboard for doing
>>> more work in the future...Does Wikipedia have funding to help us with
>>> the translation process? Or perhaps we could write a grant together?
>>> It would certainly be a very important historic event, to have an
>>> entire encyclopedia written in the movements of American Sign Language!
>>> I assume that Wikipedia can be written in Chinese and other
>>> languages? So you are handling other written scripts other than the
>>> Roman alphabet? You mention Spanish and French below, but those
>>> languages use the same Roman alphabet used to write English, but our
>>> written ASL uses SignWriting symbols, as you know.
>>> SignPuddle software can write email in SignWriting and literature in
>>> SignWriting...so we could work with your programmers to make sure
>>> that our ASL encyclopedia would be something you can post with no
>>> trouble...We are working towards the day when people can add their
>>> own Sign Language literature on the web, so we could apply that to
>>> Wikipedia someday...so that others can post their own SignWriting
>>> corrections and comments just as they do right now with the Roman
>>> alphabet in other languages...
>>> So I say YES to the proposal if Wikipedia is interested...
>>> I just went up on your web site on this link:
>>> >> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requests_for_new_languages/
>>> >> Wikipedia_American_Sign_Language_2
>>> I can see that SignWriting was discussed there...
>>> I clicked on EDIT, but it looks like a huge job to do the editing and
>>> I am on a deadline right now to finish our software by next week...so
>>> I would be grateful if someone else could propose to use SignWriting
>>> to write an American Sign Language Wikipedia?...it could bring
>>> SignWriting users funding for doing the translation and writing work...
>>> Perhaps in April I can add to the Wikipedia voting page above...
>>> no matter what, please know we are interested...
>>> And i hope someone on the SignWriting List can help too...go to the
>>> above web page and click on the word EDIT in the corner to make your
>>> statement that we could write Wikipedia in American Sign Language
>>> using SignWriting...
>>> Many thanks!
>>> Val ;-)
>>> > On 3/9/07, Valerie Sutton <signwriting at mac.com> wrote:
>>> >> SignWriting List
>>> >> March 9, 2007
>>> >> Can anyone write an article about SignWriting for Wikipedia's new
>>> >> section on American Sign Language?...Here is a message I just
>>> >> received:
>>> >> --------
>>> >> From: pharosofalexandria at gmail.com
>>> >> Subject: Encyclopedia in American Sign Language
>>> >> Date: March 9, 2007 1:28:29 PM PST
>>> >> To: Sutton at SignWriting.org
>>> >> You may be familiar with Wikipedia, the free volunteer-written
>>> >> encyclopedia, which exists in many languages. The English Wikipedia
>>> >> is at http://en.wikipedia.org/
>>> >> There is currently a proposal for a Wikipedia in American Sign
>>> >> Language, and I thought that the members of the SignWriting
>>> >> should be aware of this.
>>> >> The proposal is here:
>>> >> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Requests_for_new_languages/
>>> >> Wikipedia_American_Sign_Language_2
>>> >> It would be great if you could share this information on SignWriting
>>> >> forums and mailing lists, and please comment at the proposal page
>>> >> (just click "edit").
>>> >> I am not a sign language user myself, but I thought I could help in
>>> >> informing you of this proposal. Feel free to ask me if you have any
>>> >> general questions relating to what Wikipedia is or how it works.
>>> >> Thank you
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