AW: AW: [sw-l] Namibia handshape construction

SignWriting signwriting at MAC.COM
Sun May 31 22:58:37 UTC 2009

SignWriting List
May 31, 2009

Hello Stefan and Adam!


I knew that you would post a new way to write the hand position,  
Stefan, and of course your artwork and photos are beautiful as have such artistic talent and are doing very important  
work for the world, and we all are benefitting from it!

So obviously you need to go ahead and do what is best for your  

But now you know that the ISWA 2008 has a different symbol, and that  
Adam and I will be teaching the ISWA symbols, as we have them in  
SignPuddle right now, in a new book called "SignWriting Hand Symbols".  
Our collaboration will also be on the web in the SignWriting Symbol  
Lessons section of the SignWriting web site, but we are not ready  
yet...I really look forward to showing you later...and although our  
symbols may be a little different than the way you are writing, I  
believe we can still read each other's work...I hope you will be able  
to construct your new handshape in the ISWA...I am not sure...that  
little hook you created may be a little hard to write in  
SignPuddle...but of course your TrueType fonts are lovely!

Now, regarding how Adam and I are seeing it...

Adam showed me the old lady inside the young lady drawing that you  
sent us, Stefan. I had not seen the second one...the old lady in that  
picture, but I finally saw it once Adam explained it to me...If Adam  
had not been here in my home to show me, I would never have seen the  
second woman inside the other drawing...and I do not see them as old  
and young ladies, but two women with two different facial structures,  
and they both could be any age...

So you are right...we see things differently, just as you pointed out, "Writing what you see" only works for the person who does  
the artwork or the new symbol...Although that is better than nothing,  
I have learned through experience that people see things  
differently....that is why I am working with all of you, and now  
writing a book with Adam, so working together can give us a future  
standard so we can understand each other, even though we do see things  

So basing everything on "writing what you see"...can actually give us  
a problem, because people "see things differently"...

So here is my analysis of the situation...

1. Movement Writing is a writing system that is trying to write body  
movement in a visual way, as close to what we see as possible, but  
adding more detailed symbols to make "what we see" more accurate...

2. SignWriting, although originally based on Movement Writing, is  
different than Movement Writing....The goal for SignWriting is to try  
to find a way to write visually, the way we see signs, but also make  
it readable and understandable by the majority of people...this means  
that some standardization of writing  "what we see" has to come into  
the system...or otherwise we will all write differently, since we all  
see things differently...

I believe that part of the reading and writing standardization process  
for SignWriting will evolve naturally, through usage...but some of the  
standardization process can begin faster, if our symbols remain  
stable. That is why I tried my best with the ISWA 2008, and then  
promised Steve and others that we will stick with the ISWA 2008, for  
at least a decade, so we can get a stable writing system...because  
what I have learned working with all of you, and it has been a  
blessing and a wonderful experience, is that symbols can change and  
evolve all the time, and there is always another wonderful idea, and  
also always another symbol needed to be is amazing how  
flexibility can be both wonderful and a detriment, depending on your  
viewpoint...So Steve installed the ISWA 2008 in the SignPuddle  
software and we are using those symbols now...

Naturally writing by hand, and also TrueType and other methods, has  
more flexibility...but I am happy to have a stable ISWA 2008 in our  
software, so we can finish the documentation and start publishing  
large books and full web sites, like Adam's, written in the world's  
sign languages.

So in SignWriting, I personally am striving for three things:

1. to write what we see (or hopefully write what the majority sees the  
2. to write what we feel while signing outloud (like facial  
expressions, which we cannot see, but we feel)
3. to write what the majority can read and understand the easiest (and  
this of course, has to evolve and we need to test it too and to  
establish some guidelines so we can all understand each other)

Those are my thoughts, and when Adam and I have the web pages for all  
the symbols ready, of course we will announce it...

Thank you very much, Stefan, for your beautiful photos and many  
SignWriting projects...and also congratulations on over 9000 signs  
entered in your German Sign Language SignPuddle!

German Sign Language SignPuddle

and so many documents in the Literature puddle is really a  
miracle all you have accomplished -

Thanks again for your input...

Val ;-)


> On May 31, 2009, at 3:02 PM, Adam Frost wrote:
>> The only thing is that the way you have the thumb written, it could  
>> be taken as either a thumb to the side or as a thumb forward.  
>> That's where the confusion comes in. It would look too close to the  
>> same thing if we were to write it with the thumb forward as well.  
>> This is why writing just what you see can get you in these  
>> predicaments.
>> Adam
> ----------
>> On May 31, 2009, at 2:50 PM, Stefan Wöhrmann wrote:
>>> Hi Valerie, Adam, and Everyone,
>>> -hm - here is what came to my mind. I sat down and created this  
>>> symbol for
>>> the "Namibia" hand shape ...  it follows very much the simple  
>>> principle
>>> "Just write what you see" .. smile
>>> What do you think?
>>> Stefan ;-)

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