New Era for Sign Language Literature

Valerie Sutton signwriting at MAC.COM
Wed Oct 24 18:48:11 UTC 2007

SignWriting List
October 24, 2007

Hello SW List!
Everything is fine with me here, and Nancy and I are enjoying editing  
the Gospel According to John in ASL...we have found some spelling  
issues and are enjoying discussing them and improving John 1, which  
is of course, an unending task, since we all know that as soon as it  
is published and used as reading material, we will always find  
something that could be better, and I am very open to later  
publishing a second edition that will work on those improvements...

So I see each version of a document as a wonderful learning  

We are so blessed to have so many documents now that we are preparing  
for publication...including:

Gospel According to John
Sleeping Beauty
Cat in the Hat

and next year I hope a complete book of Mother Goose Rhymes, a better  
ASL dictionary in SignWriting, and something with some real non- 
fiction importance, like the History of Deaf Culture or something  
like that, which will be useful to Deaf Education. Also poetry is  
another publication we need as well...

And as you know, in other countries, such as Brazil, Nicaragua,  
Norway, Spain and Germany, and even Denmark in their older  
publications, we already have some written literature, so it  
certainly is not just for ASL at all. As you know, the first novel  
written in a Sign Language (Spanish Sign Language from Madrid) was  
written in SignWriting by Steve and Dianne Parkhurst. It is over 140  
pages without any spoken language.

I am using SignBank DocumentMaker software to create the final layout  
of our documents here. For John 1, Nancy writes the documents in  
SignPuddle, in a private ASL Bible project puddle, and then I  
transfer the document column by column into DocumentMaker. John 1 is  
around 35 pages long...we hope in time to place the entire Gospel  
According to John in one big might be hundreds of pages,  
since there are 21 chapters to John. Nancy has completed John 1- 10,  
and also 14 already.

And yesterday I started putting Cherie Wren's Cat in the Hat, first  
draft, into DocumentMaker so that we have one document to edit, as a  
PDF document...then it is easier to read the whole book and edit it  
from that PDF...if a change is needed, we go back to SignPuddle and  
make the changes there...and then I re- do that one column in  
DocumentMaker and update the PDF...that editing process is working  
very well ...

It is a different feeling to have the whole document in one  
sit down and start reading the literature just as you would read a  
book in a spoken language...and when you do that, you see signs that  
are harder to read than others, and you think through "What would  
make it easier to read that sign?" and then you can adjust the  
spelling to make it easier to read...

This has never been done before in history. We are writing complete  
books now in the movements of signed languages, without the need of  
any spoken language....volumes written in signed languages in  
libraries are the future...a way to preserve the languages, and  
respect the literature of the Deaf communities..

So we are running a little late on the first edition of John 1, but  
it is coming!

Thanks for your patience, everyone, and don't hesitate to write if  
you have questions...

Val ;-)


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