AW: [sw-l] Namibia handshape construction

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Jun 2 13:03:56 UTC 2009

SignWriting List
June 2, 2009

Hello Ingvild and everyone -
Thanks for all your comments, and thanks to Stefan and Charles and  
Adam too!

I think everyone should write exactly as they wish...this issue of  
whether the fingers go one direction or the other, will probably  
always be with us...because it is a matter of perspective and people  
do think and see things differently.

And you would be surprised, if you look at hundreds of documents  
around the world in SignWriting, how many people mix the flopping in  
each one of their own documents. Sometimes it feels good to flop the  
symbol one way, and sometimes it feels good to flop it the other way,  
and people's writings are not consistent, even within one document...  
and they don't realize it either, so I suspect we must be flexible and  
we should all write the way it feels good for us...

Fortunately, all the symbols flopped both directions are available in  
SignPuddle, so you have all the symbols you need to write your way,  
when writing your sign languages...

So do what feels intuitive for you and your languages...choose  
whatever direction feels right for you...

It will be interesting later to create a research project on this  
subject, studying not only individual teachings of these symbols, but  
studying how many times people point the fingers towards their mouths  
in documents, or away from their mouths see how many times  
the flopped positions are used...within written sign language  
literature. It is like the letter M in ASL...when hearing people go to  
school to learn fingerspelling, oftentimes they are taught a tight M  
with the fingers in a fist, but when Deaf people are signing quickly  
to each other, they do not do that M...they have straight fingers, and  
yet the other fist version is still taught in classrooms, because it  
is the formal symbol. So when we write documents, people are not  
writing the formal teaching, but are instead writing more intuitively,  
and that is how the real writing system literature is  
written is the real key to this issue...not the formal teaching of  
individual symbols...

Meanwhile, all of us are writing textbooks documenting the way we  
write, so that future generations have something to learn and study  
and will keep the writing system a living breathing  
system and that is good...

Talking about that, Ingvild, I was wondering if your Norwegian  
textbook on SignWriting should be sold on and in other  
arenas on the internet?...would you like me to arrange that for you?  
And Stefan, would you like to have your SignWriting Handbook on Right now, if you go to and search for  
SignWriting, you will find that the Parkhurst's books from Spain are  
there, and so are two books of my titles, but I would be more than  
happy to also go through the paperwork of getting your books on too...the reason this is important is that it gets the  
books out into the real world more, and even though a sale will be  
very rare, it is still a book that is easier to find by placing it out  
on the open market...and of course I would send any sales money  
directly to you through would help spread SignWriting in  
general....and of course your Norwegian book, Ingvild, will still  
always be available for download for free on our site...thank you for  

Norwegian textbook on SignWriting by Ingvild Roald

And back to writing symbols the way you want in SignPuddle...around 90  
per cent of the time you will be able to construct new handshapes  
using the ISWA symbols, but the tiny hook that Stefan designed would  
be hard to write using the little lines in the iSWA...I hope it will  
be possible...I would like to hope that the ISWA symbols are enough to  
be able to write literature...

Have a great day everyone!

Val ;-)


On Jun 2, 2009, at 2:13 AM, Ingvild Roald wrote:

> Symbols used for everyday writing may be intuitive (as most of the  
> SignWriting symbols are) or non-intuitive, like the conventions on  
> arrowheads etc. But they should not be counter-intuitive. Maybe  
> Stefan and I both think as educators, more than as system builders.  
> I find it counter-intuitive that both of the attached handshape  
> symbols refer to the right hand - my feeling is that as the hand  
> flippes, so should the parts of the symbols that represent the  
> fingers. (I know that this is not the same handshape that Stefan  
> wrote about, but it is in the same group of handshapes)....


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