AW: [sw-l] Namibia handshape construction

Ingvild Roald iroald at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 3 08:50:24 UTC 2009

Hi Val and all,

1) I am happy that we can be flexible and try out what feels natural. After 
all, this is just the very beginning of SignWriting, even if it has become a 
very long way since the start in 1974. I also think that the different 
signed languages will come to slightly different conclusions, depending on 
wheter or not they do have other handshapes that can be confused with the 
one in question. In Norwegian SL, a lot of handshapes are percieved as the 
same, even if by analysis they are different.

2) Go ahead and sell the book, and keep whatever income there may be. - I 
would like to revise it and make it more complete, but it may be sold as it 
is. I now of a few SignWritten typos, but that is as expected


From: "Valerie Sutton" <sutton at>
Sent: Tuesday, June 02, 2009 3:03 PM
To: "SignWriting List" <sw-l at>
Subject: Re: AW: [sw-l] Namibia handshape construction

> 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 
> that!
> 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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