Mundbildschrift and Mundbild ;-)

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Mon May 14 13:22:12 UTC 2007

Wonderful message, Adam...Thanks for this input...

I am happy to see how many of you are open-minded and interested in  
Woehrmann's SpeechWriting...

And Stefan...please feel free to write about Woehrmann's  
SpeechWriting here on the SignWriting List...I think it is good for  
us to know more about it...and now that it has a name in English, it  
is easier for us to understand what you are talking about...

And it is interesting to learn about the IPA too!

Val ;-)


On May 13, 2007, at 11:08 PM, Adam Frost wrote:

> I have seen several writting systems that try to make it more  
> phonetic much like the IPA. Although most of them are not the IPA,  
> all of them have the same attribute that make the IPA what it is.   
> The reason that they are not is because they are usually language  
> specific, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't be expanded to  
> be as such n because that is how the IPA came about. Mundbilschrift  
> or SpeechWriting falls in this catigory. The added benifit that I  
> see with Stefan's system is that it has information as to how to  
> form the sounds. No other writing system that I have seen that has  
> the goal of being phonetic that comes close to showing this added  
> information. I think that is why Stefan's students have such  
> success with it compared to other methods. Just my two cents. BTW I  
> do know the IPA, and SpeechWriting has almost all of the IPA in it.  
> It could very easily be expanded to map all that is in the current  
> IPA, but it would have to be continually updated as the IPA is ex!
>  panding continually as well. ;-)
> Adam
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "Valerie Sutton" <signwriting at MAC.COM>
> Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 22:07:48
> To:sw-l at
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] Mundbildschrift and Mundbild ;-)
> OK. I stand corrected. I will not mention the term IPA!
> I will let Stefan tell us what SpeechWriting does and I am going back
> to SignWriting ;-)))
> I look forward to watching the SpeechWriting develop to see what
> Stefan, I hope you will keep us informed of your
> experiences...
> Val ;-)
> -----------
> On May 13, 2007, at 9:52 PM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
>> I am not discounting at all what Stefan is doing with
>> Speechwriting.  My only point was about your mention of it being an
>> equivalent of the IPA. I am simply saying that we should be careful
>> about saying it is the equivalent of the IPA unless it is truly
>> able to map over to the IPA.  Otherwise, it is better to simply
>> say, "Woehrmann's SpeechWriting System is a method of transcribing
>> sounds using the SignWriting face symbols to show the visual
>> depiction of those sounds. This system has been used (thus far) to
>> transcribe German. It may be able to be used to transcribe the
>> sounds of other spoken languages." As Stefan expands the mapping of
>> the symbols to match the IPA more specifically, then it will be
>> possible to say that it contains these ranges of IPA symbols or
>> something like that.
>> Sorry I am picky about that. But I think that is an important point
>> to clarify for the sake of those who do know the IPA and who might
>> think we are trying to reinvent the wheel or some other such  
>> thing. :)
>> At this point, I am neutral about the SpeechWriting. I am neither
>> for nor against it. It is simply another tool that we can use or
>> not use depending on our need. For now, I don't see my need to use
>> it, but I plan to keep an eye on Stefan's work with it to see how
>> it works for him. :) I certainly will look into it if we determine
>> that it is important to write ASL mouthings more specifically.
>> Thanks,
>> Stuart
>> On May 13, 2007, at 23:28, Valerie Sutton wrote:
>>> SignWriting List
>>> May 13, 2007
>>> Hi Stuart!
>>> Woehrmann's SpeechWriting System has been used to write the
>>> details of German speech, (both the seen and unseen parts of
>>> speech), and has been taught to Deaf students in Stefan's class
>>> for several years...maybe 5 years? Is that right Stefan?
>>> Stefan's students are also signing in his classroom is
>>> not oral like the others in his school...
>>> I do not know if other spoken languages have tried SpeechWriting
>>> yet...So far it seems to work well for German! ;-)
>>> I saw a German TV program...a full half hour show...where German
>>> TV crews came in and taped Deaf kids reading the SpeechWriting
>>> System in their class, and it was very impressive.
>>> First, the kids in Stefan's class seemed to be signers. Sign
>>> Language was prominent in their classroom.
>>> Second, they used SignWriting for reading signs...Using SignWriter
>>> DOS! (this was before SignPuddle ;-) Stefan typed with SignWriter
>>> DOS in front of the cameras - it was great!
>>> And then they used the SpeechWriting system for reading some
>>> spoken German documents that Stefan had prepared for them in
>>> an observer, I got the feeling they really
>>> sincerely enjoyed learning it...
>>> ...Stefan was kind enough to send me a CD of that TV program and I
>>> hope someday to telephone the TV station to get permission to show
>>> it to others...
>>> Anyway, SpeechWriting is not a part of is another
>>> subject.
>>> Of course SignWriting records the movement of the mouth...but is
>>> not the same as SpeechWriting..
>>> And this list is about SignWriting ;-)
>>> I will leave the details of the IPA to others...
>>> But at least you now know that SignWriting mouth movement writing
>>> is not the same as SpeechWriting, which has a different purpose...
>>> Val ;-)
>>> --
>>> On May 13, 2007, at 8:27 PM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
>>>> Just to clarify ...
>>>> Is this SpeechWriting system really writing the phonetics like
>>>> the IPA or is it writing the phonemics (what is perceived to be
>>>> the sounds of a given language)? The IPA does cover a very large
>>>> territory of sounds, so unless you have a one-to-one mapping of
>>>> the SpeechWriting system to the IPA, it may not be best to
>>>> advertise it as an equivalent of the IPA until that time. There
>>>> are some sounds in the IPA that are not visible on the mouth or
>>>> the face. For example, some African languages have clicks and
>>>> other such sounds. Other languages have tones which alter the
>>>> meaning of a word even though the mouth movements are exactly the
>>>> same. So those elements will need to be considered before it can
>>>> be accurately called the equivalent of the IPA.
>>>> Not to be a wet blanket or anything, but I tend to prefer precise
>>>> language when it comes to things like this. I am not opposed to
>>>> this, but as a Deaf person, I feel our first focus is enabling
>>>> the Deaf person to read/write in their sign language. Using that,
>>>> we can build bridges to reading and writing the spoken language.
>>>> Whether or not this SpeechWriting will enable building a bridge
>>>> to spoken language literacy or not would be an interesting study.
>>>> Just a thought.
>>>> Thanks,
>>>> Stuart
>>>> On May 13, 2007, at 9:16, Valerie Sutton wrote:
>>>>> SignWriting List
>>>>> May 13, 2007
>>>>> Adam Frost wrote:
>>>>>> Ok. That helps me understand what Mundbildschrift is. I could
>>>>>> possibly be called Speech Writing. :-) So what I was thinking
>>>>>> is called Mundbild, or maybe called in English Mouth Writing or
>>>>>> Lip Writing. Your explanation helps a lot. Thanks. :-)
>>>>> Hello Stefan, Adam, Sandy, Charles and everyone!
>>>>> You are correct, Adam, that you are interested in writing what
>>>>> Stefan calls Mundbild...which are SignWriting symbols applied to
>>>>> writing the movements we see on the mouth while signing...and
>>>>> writing Mundbild should be a part of the ISWA (the International
>>>>> SignWriting Alphabet). I think your name LipWriting is fun! Or
>>>>> Mouthing Writing...or just plain SignWriting Facial Expressions
>>>>> might be fine too ;-)
>>>>> and you are right again, that Mundbildschrift is not the
>>>>> same...and will not be a part of the ISWA.
>>>>> I asked Stefan to choose an English translation of the term
>>>>> "Mundbildschrift" for us, so we can understand it in
>>>>> English...and Stefan chose this translation:
>>>>> Mundbildschrift (Woehrmann's SpeechWriting System)
>>>>> Woehrmann's SpeechWriting System writes the sounds of the IPA
>>>>> (International Phonetic Alphabet) using some symbols from
>>>>> SignWriting Facial Expressions, but then developing those
>>>>> symbols further, to create a standard way of writing the sounds
>>>>> of the IPA.
>>>>> Here is an example...see attached...this is a sentence written
>>>>> in Woehrmann's SpeechWriting System. This sentence writes the
>>>>> sounds of the English sentence at the bottom of the diagram. You
>>>>> can see there are seven words, read from left to right. If a
>>>>> person memorizes what sound is represented by each standardized
>>>>> facial expression, they can produce the sounds of of the IPA:
>>>>> <Woehrmann's SpeechWriting.gif>

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