Request for comment on a technical SignWriting document

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Fri Dec 24 18:26:49 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
December 23, 2010

Hello Steve, Stefan, Jonathan, Bill and everyone!

I am so happy to see the feedback you have all given Steve - Thank you to all of you.

I have the entire 27 page document printed on my desk from a PDF document, and I am reading it, but you all are faster than I am....So most of my feedback will be coming after Christmas Day, on the 26th or later...

But first, Steve, I must tell you how honored I feel, that you have taken the initiative to write and prepare this Internet Draft for posting on January 1st, 2011. I would never have realized this was necessary, because I am not a programmer, but I can see how necessary this document is...thank you for devoting so much time to the International SignWriting Alphabet 2010 (ISWA 2010).

The ISWA 2010 is the best symbolset we have produced to date. There could always be something more we could add or subtract or improve, but, most likely, the ISWA 2010 will be the standard symbolset for at least a decade...

Recently I have had discussions with a linguist who is not on our List, who is presenting the ISWA 2008 in a Master's Degree thesis, and there have been interesting and unusual questions about "viewpoints" and "perspectives" on the symbols, and those discussions have been good for me, because I realize I need to teach the viewpoints and perspectives in clearer ways, to show people how the entire Sutton Movement Writing system is designed, including and especially SignWriting, relating to planes in space...perhaps in time I can create a video standing in a room with animated "planes" showing how the body relates to those planes - you can see I have been thinking about new ways to teach the same subject that has already been taught by so many excellent teachers...everything we have taught about the planes is correct in the past, and yet there are some people who have trouble learning the planes, and so I am trying to find new ideas how to present the same material ;-)

One of the issues that came up in these offline discussions has been the difference between a "Viewpoint" and a "Perspective"... in my past books I have never really differentiated between those two English words or terms...but I see now that we need to establish a terminology that will work for all of us, related to the difference between a Viewpoint and a Perspective...

Let me explain.

1. Let us use the term "Viewpoint" for these two terms:

Expressive Viewpoint
Receptive Viewpoint

The reader or observer is ALWAYS sitting in the audience. The reader's chair (the audience's chairs) never move. The reader or observer is always at the bottom of the paper, or the bottom of your screen. The bottom of the paper or screen is closer to the reader. The top of the paper or screen is farther away from the reader.

The two ViewPoints, Expressive and Receptive, establish what is considered the "Front Wall".

In Expressive, the Front Wall is farther away from the reader, at the top of the page or screen. The reader is looking through the back of the signer, so the Front Wall, for the signer, is the far-wall from the reader's perspective.

In Receptive, the Front Wall is closer to the reader, at the bottom of the page or screen. The reader is looking at the signer facing the reader, so the Front Wall, for the signer, is the close-wall from the reader's perspective.

So there are only TWO Viewpoints in the entire Sutton Movement Writing system: Expressive and Receptive.

SignWriting is almost always written from the Expressive Viewpoint, although it can be written Receptive too...

DanceWriting and MovementWriting are almost always written from the Receptive Viewpoint, although they can be written Expressive too...


2. Let us use the term "Perspective" for these two terms:

Front Perspective
Overhead Perspective (or Top Perspective)

You can see that in the past I used to call these "Front View" and "Top View" (or Overhead View), without realizing that the English word "View" could be confused with Expressive and Receptive, which is totally different... these are not "Viewpoints" but are instead "Perspectives" on symbols...

The Front Perspective on hand symbols has NO break in the fingers...they are solid symbols because they are parallel with the "Front Wall Plane". So the Front Perspective is parallel with the Front Wall Plane.

The Overhead Perspective, or the Top Perspective, has the break in the fingers that represents the Horizon Line...this is parallel to the "Floor Plane". So the Overhead Perspective is parallel with the Floor Plane.

BOTH Perspectives are used in BOTH Viewpoints...Expressive and Receptive. And the Overhead Perspective of the Head is used in both Viewpoints, Expressive and Receptive, as well.


So both Perspectives can be used in both Viewpoints.


Now that I have explained this new terminology, look at page 4 in Steve's document (I have created a PDF of the document which I have attached). It is under 2.2 Symbol. There is a chart that says "Viewpoint". That needs to say "Perspective" instead, and I would suggest replacing the word "Expressive" in the chart, to say "Front"...

Because all 6 Palm Facings you are discussing in that chart, can be used in either Receptive Viewpoint and Expressive Viewpoint - they are used in both Viewpoints, but have two Perspectives -

I hope this is not too much work for you Steve....the paragraph above the chart also needs to be re-explained - thank you for opening this wonderful document to discussion and feedback -

And have a very blessed Christmas - I will be back online later tomorrow -

Stefan has also given us some beautiful new cards which I will post tomorrow too -

Happy Holidays everyone!

Val ;-)

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