Four SignWriting Levels...Goldilocks and Snow White

MARIA AZZOPARDI maria.azzopardi at UM.EDU.MT
Wed Apr 21 08:40:04 UTC 2010

Excellent. This helps a lot.

Can I just ask two small questions? Did you consider asking a Deaf person
to write directly level 3 and level 4?

As I'm going through the Library on the website, from the material the
following differences emerge. There is signwriting that is:

1. written directly into sign language (by native/ non-native)
2. transcribed from video
3. translated directly into sign language
4. interpreted and then transribed into sign language

The processes involved in writing and transcribing are different. Writing
is a cognitive process where you have time to think about the language you
are using and re-edit, etc. Just like writing literature in spoken
language. A written book is very different to a story that would be
transcribed from someone saying a story there and then.

My second question is: I can see there is literature that is written
horizontally and vertically. What's the history of this, and it seems like
there are certain countries (Brazil and France) that still write
horizontally - what's your opinion about this?

thanks again,

> SignWriting List
> April 20, 2010
> Hello Maria!
> Thank you for this message, and as Adam has confirmed, your message made
it to the List...
> Regarding the four SignWriting Levels of Goldilocks...I am also coming
> with four SignWriting Levels for Snow White in ASL as well. Snow White
Level One is now a published book, although not posted on the web yet...
> I developed the four SignWriting reading levels for the SignWriting
Literacy Project in 1998 -
> SW1 - SignWriting Level 1: WorkBook and Coloring Book for Beginners
Individual signs that are used in later levels are presented on pages
> illustrations and some pages in the workbook ask beginners to write rows
of one sign...repeating the handwriting of one sign at a time...I do not
mean only symbols in rows, but actually writing a complete sign, like
> sign for SNOW, many times in a vertical row, to give the student
> So they learn vocabulary that will be used in later levels, and they can
color the illustrations that are used in later levels. Although Level 1
> obviously geared for children because it is a coloring book, actually
> workbook exercises are useful for all beginners, no what their ages...
> SW2 - SignWriting Level 2: Basic Storybook
> This is a shortened version of the story, not based on any video, but
written directly in SignWriting, in short sentences, with fairly simple
signs, and the sentences usually are written with only a Center Lane, to
give readers their first experience in reading full sentences. There are
no more than 2 vertical columns of writing per page. The sign language
sentences are then translated into simple spoken language. Both
> are written with large type for beginning readers. All signs in the
sign-sentences can be looked up in a little dictionary in the back of
> Level 2 book, for reference. Darline wrote her stories directly in ASL
> this purpose. Writing directly in sign language, doing no translation
> any spoken language, and not basing it on any video, is the best way to
get simple writing of a shortened version of the story.
> SW3 - SignWriting Level 3: Intermediate Storybook
> This is a video transcription of ASL storytelling, with medium size
SignWriting symbols, medium size spoken language translation, and
> illustrations. The SignWriting sentences have full facial expressions,
role shifting, all three Lanes are used to show the grammar of the
language. Writing storytelling from ASL video provides an advanced
> but at the intermediate level there are no more than three vertical
columns on one page and there is a spoken language translation on each
> SW4 - SignWriting Level 4: Advanced Storybook
> The same video transcription used in Level 3 is now reduced to smaller
size SignWriting symbols, with at least 4 vertical columns to a page,
> NO spoken language translation. It is pure sign language reading
> with fewer illustrations.
> As the sizes of the SignWriting symbols reduce, the reader starts to
> for meaning, rather than trying to figure out SignWriting symbols and
spellings...Whole signs are recognized for meaning quickly, without
> To start developing these levels, you need to find an excellent
> storyteller in sign language, and videotape the story. From there, break
down the story into important vocabulary that the signer used in that
videotape, and from there you can start Level 1....Then ask the same
storyteller, to sit down and write the story themselves in SignWriting
directly without looking at any video, and ask them to write the simple
story using some of the same vocabulary...Then a skilled video
> transcriptionist transcribes the storytelling video, and the full
transcription is used for Levels 3 and 4. You can reduce the size of
> in SignPuddle using ColumnMaker, or drag and drop the sentences into
programs that do auto reduction. That is how we developed the four
SignWriting reading levels -
> Hope this helps!!
> Val ;-)
> Valerie Sutton
> Sutton at
> -----------
> On Apr 20, 2010, at 2:19 PM, MARIA AZZOPARDI wrote:
>> Dear Valerie,
>> I was wondering if you could explain to me how you worked on the different
>> levels for Goldilocks? It's very interesting. I can see that level 2
>> written directly by Darline. What technique was used for the other levels?
>> I would love to write something for four levels of LSM signwriting,
perhaps using the same format, would this be possible?
>> Thanks
>> maria
>> ps: could you confirm that this email got to the signwriting list also?
i've never received any confirmations and i've sent perhaps two or
>> emails since we moved to new server

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