Group 1 handshape symbol differentiation

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Mon Sep 29 14:27:42 UTC 2008

SignWriting List
September 29, 2008

Thank you, Cherie, for your excellent explanation...which was  

Natasha - I believe you understand that the handshapes can rotate in 8  
possible rotations now. But there is one misunderstanding I have  
noticed in your questions. You assume that we are talking about  
height. These rotations have nothing to do with how high or low your  
hand is...or how near or far they are, because they represent  

These palm facings represent "planes in space"...the classic example  
of this is the sign for MY or MINE.

We write the sign for MY or MINE with a white palm touching the chest.  
Obviously, if you look down at your hand touching your chest, you see  
the overhead view of the side view of the hand, but we do not write it  
that it is not just based on what is in your own view, but it  
is based instead on planes...essentially there is a "white palm plane"  
that is written with a white palm, whether the hand is far or close to  
the body...

If the palm is facing the chest, parallel to the Front Wall Plane,  
whether it is close to your body or far from your is all on  
the same "white palm plane".... Try this...put your hand in the  
position of the sign for MY, but far from your body, and then move it  
in the exact position towards your chest....and then it touches your  
chest...that is all the same plane or palm facing...

Another way to say it is that the sign for MY or MINE "feels like the  
white palm" because the white palm is doing the is the  
important meaning to the sign...

So the palm facings are on planes...see attached...take a look at the  
white palm in all these positions...all of these could happen...the  
white palm means that the hand is parallel to the Front Wall, with the  
palm away from the Front Wall, no matter what the height or  
depth...see attached...This shows the white palm with the Flat Palm  
but it is the same for any white palm symbol, whether it is group 1 or  
group 5:

On Sep 29, 2008, at 6:01 AM, Natasha Escalada-Westland wrote:

> So the handshape below would pretty much have to occur in the space  
> right in front of your face...?  Any lower and it would be written  
> as a side-view, no?  Again, thanks everybody for clarification.  It  
> helps to know that some shapes may or may not be commonly used.
> Natasha Escalada-Westland, M.Ed. (D/HH), Macromedia Cert.
> Westland Progeny,
> Date: Mon, 29 Sep 2008 03:52:59 -0700
> From: cwterp at
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] Group 1 handshape symbol differentiation
> To: sw-l at
> I think I see the problem...
> Picture the hand palm facing you, index finger pointing straight  
> up.  Stick an imaginary pin thru your palm into the 'wall', and  
> rotate the hand counter-clockwise 90 degrees.   The index finger is  
> now pointing to the left, palm is still facing you.  This is the  
> second image in your email below.
> Now picture the hand palm facing UP, index finger pointing straight  
> away from you.  Stick the imaginary pin in the 'floor' and rotate  
> counter clockwise 90 degrees.  Your palm should be facing up, your  
> index finger pointing to the left.  It hurts my arm to do that.
> For 'sometimes'  the palm is most likely facing to the side, half  
> black, half white.
> cherie
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Valerie Sutton <signwriting at>
> To: SignWriting List <sw-l at>
> Sent: Sunday, September 28, 2008 10:27:33 PM
> Subject: Re: [sw-l] Group 1 handshape symbol differentiation
> On Sep 28, 2008, at 7:00 PM, Natasha Escalada-Westland wrote:
> Thank you for all your replies!  I really like the animations.  They  
> are helpful.  Yet, after reading and looking at everything, I am  
> still not completely sure.  After reading Adam's post, perhaps now  
> my question is, how are all these symbols different? Matching the  
> symbols with whole signs has been very helpful to me in the past.  I  
> will try to describe the hand position to confirm if I understand.
>  This hand would be palm up, occurring in the lower portion of my  
> sign space, the way I might sign "sometimes"
>  ?
> --------------
> Here are some examples of signs that use the Index Finger...see  
> attached...
> <049 Hand-Group1.jpg>
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