Book "I SEE A VOICE" by Jonathan Ree

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Mon May 21 00:13:17 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
May 20, 2007

Book "I SEE A VOICE" by Jonathan Ree

I want to thank Shane Gilchrist from Belfast, who recommended that I  
read the book "I SEE A VOICE" by Jonathan Ree, published in I purchased it through It is a hard-backed  
book that is really excellent, describing in general, the history of  
deafness, speech teaching and sign languages, mostly in European  
countries and the western world in general, for the past couple of  
centuries...I have not read all of it is a thick book...but  
I have skimmed some of it....

The author touches upon many subjects, including Bell's Visible  
Speech and Bebian's writing of signed languages. I particularly  
enjoyed the chapter called "Writing Signs", pages 293-308.  No  
mention of SignWriting or other systems that were developed in the  
last half of the 1900's however...;-)

He did give particular focus to Roch-Amboise-Auguste Bébian, whom I  
personally have always admired, bearing so many frustrations while  
working as a teacher and writer with Deaf people in France in the  
early 1800s...Bebian fought against oralism and felt that signed  
languages deserved to be written...

Roch-Amboise-Auguste Bébianébian

Ree started with discussing the writing of dance and gesture,  
including the Feuillet system from France, which was a dance notation  
system...and the Austin system, which is similar to an Israeli  
movement notation system called the Eshkol-Wachmann System...I was  
fortunate enough to meet Noa Eshkol in Israel in 1984....but there  
was no mention of the hundreds of other dance notation systems of  
course...impossible to mention everything that is for sure...

He discussed the oralists and how they looked down on the idea of  
writing signs, pointing out that it probably was not possible to  
succeed with writing signs

I hope that our modern work with SignWriting will finally bring a  
real writing system to daily use...let us pray...we just have to keep  
working hard everyday ;-)))

I hope Bebian is watching and smiling...many thanks to him and all  
those who came before us...

And many thanks for suggesting this very fine book, Shane!

Val ;-)

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