differences in fist tensions from signer to signer

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Sun May 6 15:18:09 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
May 6, 2007

Hello Everyone!

And I hope Ingvild will help me explain this from the Norwegian Sign  
Language perspective...

The detail of writing the differences in fist tensions from signer to  

In Denmark, and some other signed languages too, they do not seem to  
differentiate between a Tight Fist or an Open Fist (Circle base for O  
hand in ASL)...

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In other words, in ASL there is a linguistic meaning difference  
between a tight fist with the Index finger up, and a D-hand...see below

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But my memory is, that in Danish Sign Language, they do not care  
whether it is tight or open...it all is the same to them...

How do we handle this issue? Which symbol should be used when writing  
Danish Sign Language, if they don't differentiate?

I bring this up also because Kelly Jo mentioned earlier that there  
are details of fist relaxation if we were to write a native ASL  
signer in their exact way of signing...which means we do not have  
enough symbols to cover all the possible variations of relaxed fists  
in the current symbolset...so that is the other extreme...that would  
me we would have to include more symbols to show every variation of  
relaxation...which would then give the Danish signers a choice  
somewhere in the middle between the square and the circle...these  
detailed fist relaxation symbols can be placed in the ISWA, but it  
would cause a lot more symbols to be added to the symbolset...

So I was going to propose that we keep what we have, and just decide  
on a choice of one or the other to mean a different thing, for the  
Danish signers...for example, they could use the basic square base,  
and define it as not a Tight Fist, but the basic fist that is natural  
to their language...

just like the letter A is pronounced differently in other  
countries...we still write A the same and define its pronunciation  
differently from country to country...that would cut back on the  
number of symbols needed...

These are the issues of standardization versus a phonetic writing  
system...both are needed of course...

Interesting topic!

What are all your thoughts?

Val ;-)

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