The word for "liberty" in many signed languages

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Tue Jul 6 21:35:59 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
July 6, 2010

Hello Kim!
Thank you for this report...see my responses below...

On Jul 6, 2010, Kimberley Shaw wrote:
> here is followup to my query seeking the signed equivalent of
> "liberty" in Spanish, Russian, South African, and International Sign.
> I didn't get all the languages I was seeking, but the performance went
> magnificently all the same!

Congratulations, Kim! What a remarkable project - so many languages....

> Let me back up here.
> My chorus has just returned from performing at a choral festival in
> the U.S. called Sister Singers Network. Several of the participating
> choruses -- like mine -- routinely have their performances interpreted
> into ASL. During the last night of this festival, a huge 200-voice
> chorus of festival attendees was to perform a brand-new piece of music
> which was written for the occasion by Jenni Brandon, entitled "A
> Universal Dream". During the last section of this piece, sopranos
> sing, "libertad, liberte, Freiheit, svoboda, inkululeko, liberta,
> chofesh, eleftheria" ... all of these words having the same meaning:
> "liberty". Whew, that's a lot of countries to research! At at the same
> time, altos are asking several times, "what is it the radicals seek?"
> before themselves chiming in with "Freiheit, inkululeko" ... etc.

Sounds very dramatic!

> Signwriting to the rescue! It was a delight to find Spanish and German
> equivalents on Puddle already, and to then use Signwriting to record
> signs from other sources (such as a Russian-signing Deaf acquaintance
> and an old Gestuno dictionary.)

This is such good news...glad to know that SignWriting was useful to all of you -

> One of the other chorus' interpreters (who herself is also
> hard-of-hearing like me, ha!) liked my idea of performing this piece
> as a team, and was very interested in my Signwritten "road map" of the
> piece of music. So, now she wants to know how long it takes to learn
> to read/write SW. So, if you encounter Shiner Antiorio among the
> Signwriters, you'll know that I sent her!

Very good. Please tell Shiner Antiorio that she is very welcome. Perhaps Shiner would enjoy joining the SignWriting List? Instructions on how to join the list are here:

SignWriting List Home Page

Answering the question "How long does it take to learn SignWriting?" is a hard one to answer accurately, because people are different. For example, it takes very little time to learn to read SignWriting if you already know the sign language being written, and if you are a person who can relax and enjoy reading for fun, but to learn it well, so you can write well, takes longer, just as it does learning to read and write any language. 

So I would suggest to go to:

SignWriting Lessons

Watch the videos and download the textbooks and join the SignWriting List to ask questions, and start writing in SignPuddle -

> Best of all, I met the composer of the piece herself, and asked if she
> would mind if I weren't able to sign *all* of the languages in the
> piece and substituted, say Gestuno for the Italian, etc. We had a very
> interesting discussion about performance, translation, and
> interpretation, then I went to rehearse and prepare for the
> performance. After the performance, she came up to me, and said that
> she would now like to add a link to to her own
> webpage, for the sake of other signed-language interpreters who would
> interpret this piece. Wow!

Isn't that nice - we are very honored! ;-))

> We had fun at the performance itself. One wonderful thing about it was
> that we had an audience of 400 people, most of whom are familiar with
> the concept of ASL-interpreted choral concerts ... but many of whom
> had never seen two (or more) signers together jointly sign a piece.
> Brand-new concept to them, although Deaf people have done so for ages.
> It was an honor to get to be the one to introduce them to the concept!
> And so, here is a jpeg from that "road map" to show off, with the
> equivalents of "liberte", "Freiheit", "svoboda" (yes, it looks just
> like the ASL "freedom"! learned from Arkady Belezovsky), "chofesh" (a
> rabbi from Florida taught me this Israeli sign), and finally, the
> Gestuno. Yes, I ordinarily write vertically, not horizontally, but I
> find that sometimes writing horizontally makes it easier to integrate
> SW into a musical score. Am still figuring out the best way to do
> that.

I can understand that, since musical scores are usually written from left to right, so if you are writing the SignWriting on top of the musical notes, then you are forced to write like the music is written, however there is a way to put counts or rhythm going down in vertical columns along with the SignWriting in vertical columns...

But your performance is now over so you managed very well!

> Hope all the US signwriters had a very happy 4th of July! Mine obviously was.
> Best,
> Kim from Boston

Congratulations, Kim! This is quite an accomplishment - thank you for sharing with us -

Val ;-)

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