SVG version of our IMWA symbols

Sandy Fleming sandy at SCOTSTEXT.ORG
Sun May 6 21:13:01 UTC 2007

> And Sandy...I am sorry I thought you wanted to program Movement  
> Writing...I misunderstood...


My fault!

I didn't understand the difference between the IMWA and the ISWA before.
I really don't see how I could take an interest in developing Movement
Writing software (even though I'm a keen juggler!). To me, written sign
language is important for many reasons, I think Movement Writing would
be a distraction from this and would have to be left to programmers who
really wanted to be able to use it the way I want to be able to use
written sign language.

Fair enough, I hope?

> There are specific rules as to what is white in the symbols, and if I  
> handle the new ISWA folders for you properly, this will be at least  
> defined for you, when you create the SVG.

The thing is that when I originally used SVG, I used it to create an
Easter Card with SignWriting superimposed on a photograph. This was
difficult to read _and_ looked horrible because you could see the
background through the face and hands. I needed to have not only the
hands white, but also the face.

I think that whenever we think about colour in SignWriting, we need to
keep in mind what it would look like on a photographic background or a
pattern, not just plain paper. And of course, I didn't use black and
white, I used red and yellow  :)

> There is the complication that not all symbols need 96  
> rotations...there are 8 Categories of symbols and each one's  
> rotations are handled differently, if you are going to program those  
> differences to get rid of the number of symbols...that programming  
> was developed by Rich Gleaves for SignWriter DOS years ago as you  
> that we could cut down on the number of symbols  
> entered...he figured out all the ways things could flop and  
> rotate...for example...faces work differently than hands etc...each  
> Category has a different standard way of using Fills and Rotations on  
> the grid...

Ultimately, no matter how many variations and oddities there are, the
ISWA is finite and, as Stuart pointed out, all ground can be covered
using tables listing the exceptions. This could take time but normal
procedure would be to not worry too much about exceptions but get the
regular stuff working first. Then the programmer will soon see the
effect of the exceptions and he can sort that out with his tables. Then,
no doubt, the users soon see obscure stuff he's missed... but in the end
there's no reason why it shouldn't all get covered!

Of course it was more daunting for Richard. I've used old computers and
I've used SignWriter DOS and the astonishing thing is that he managed to
program all this up at all in such a primitive environment. We don't
have the problem of making complex shapes fit onto a tiny, low-
resolution screen like he did. We've got lots of memory, fast machines,
plenty screen space and high resolution. And no excuses  :)

> And even if those glitches were fixed, we still have another  
> problem...that some symbols look like each other, even though they  
> are technically a different the plain square white  
> palm...looks the same in several different rotations...

Again, hi-res is the answer to this. A light blue centre line could
easily be drawn through a symbol (while it's got the focus, say) to show
what its actual orientation is.

> But those different rotations are important for sorting dictionaries  
> properly, and so they must be there...

All pertinent information about a sign must of course be stored, that
goes without saying.

> That problem was never solved either, in SignWriter DOS, because  
> although Rich programmed all the flops and rotations properly, the  
> typist could not see when they had chosen the wrong rotation because  
> the two rotations looked the same...

Hi-res, again! Richard didn't have this.

> Regarding the stick figure...
> SignWriting only uses a full upper-body stick figure in its phonetic- 
> Movement-Writing form...or when writing gesture that is related to  
> signing but not a part of a formal signed language...

As I explained in my mail to Charles, the stick figure is only to be
there if the user wants it, and it's never printed. Moreover, when a
sign has been completely typed, the stick figure is moved on for typing
the next sign, and the typed sign is formatted to take up only the space
it needs. The stick figure isn't part of the sign, it's just an optional
typing aid (like all the other light blue stuff such as a grid or the
symbol orientation line I suggested above).

> I think the ISWA is a wise change...I am tired of seeing Skateboards  
> in the SignWriting symbolset!

Skateboards?! Where are my juggling clubs? Where's my unicycle?  :)


More information about the Sw-l mailing list