Nominal vs Cardinal numbers in ASL

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Wed Feb 11 16:51:19 UTC 2009

SignWriting List
February 11, 2009

Hello Maria!
Thank you for these comments...My comments are in-between yours below...

On Feb 11, 2009, at 12:49 AM, MARIA AZZOPARDI wrote:
> Imagine having a whole English book and then the page numbers were  
> written
> at the bottom as follows 'one, two three, four, five..etc - if you  
> have
> 536 pages in all on the bottom of the last page you will find written:
> 'five hundred and thirty six' (!!)

Yes..for English I agree that would be funny looking! But if you  
wanted to teach someone how to read the numbers in English, the tool  
might be useful for classroom teaching...and most of the ASL numbers  
are more compact and smaller than spelling out English words...many of  
them are just one symbol, unlike spelling English the  
reason I placed the pages numbers in BOTH the Arabic numerals and also  
in ASL, was because it is fun to see the page numbers in ASL...lots of  
new students are really fascinated by the page numbers so tiny in ASL  
and they learn to read the SignWriting spellings for the numbers  
faster that way...of course it is not for everyone and not even needed  
for people already skilled in SignWriting, but looking up pages in  
written ASL is not a bad tool for the classroom...

And most people are still new to SignWriting, so when they download a  
book written in ASL, it can't hurt to have both...

I guess I have enjoyed the tiny page numbers in ASL...but that is just  
my preference...

> I totally agree with Valerie who said that:
> "the page numbers were like "labels" for  finding a page quickly..."

That is good to know!

> My opinion is that page numbers for signwriting books are written as  
> '1,
> 2, 3, 4' -
> Even if/when signwriting evolves to the point where all school text  
> books
> are in signwriting for the Deaf, I have my doubts whether the  
> signwriting
> will replace the function of ARabic numbers such as when they are  
> used for
> Mathematical calculations in text books.

Sure. There is no question about that...I agree sign language numbers  
will never replace the norm of the so-called Arabic numbering system,  
which apparently has influence by Hindu numbers...the history behind  
numbering systems is fascinating!

> When working with the Christmas Bible translations, we had asked the
> Maltese Deaf, whether they prefer verse numbers and page numbers in
> signwriting or in Arabic numbers (1,2,3,4..) - and everyone we asked  
> said
> they prefer Arabic numbers because the function of these numbers is to
> find something quickly, just like we would prefer page numbers in an
> English book to be '1, 2, 3 etc and not 'one, two, three'.

That is good to know, and I agree with them!

It was never my idea to replace one with the other...if we included  
the ASL number, then we always had BOTH numbering systems on the same  
page...and I certainly have lots of documents in SignWriting with only  
Arabic it depends on the document.

So the point was not to replace was just fun for people  
to try to read the page numbers in ASL and gave us something to talk  
about, like right now! smile...

Have a wonderful day, and thanks for the conversation...

Val ;-)


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