On the noble cause of dictionarizing a virgin sign language and the search for a strategy to have it published

Fernando Capovilla fcapovilla at GMAIL.COM
Mon Mar 8 01:24:42 UTC 2010

Dear friends,
I am writing this message in a sincere response to Ramon's message, with the
hope it may be useful.

Dear Ramon,
Let me begin by saying I am very glad with what you have accomplished for
the deaf Catalan people, and I do congratulate you for that remarkable feat
I understand you have produced: am original Catalan Sign Language
Let me say also that you have my full solidarity because I know just how
hard it is to obtain funds to publish an original bulky Sign Language
Dictionary. Even though I do not have the time to enter Facebook, you may
count on my support for the publication of your first general and
etymological dictionary of the Catalan Sign Language.

I am not sure whether my experience may be of any utility for you. I am
writing in the hope it may be. In case you judge what I say as irrelevant
top your case, please forgive me, just ignore this message and move on.

I managed to obtain support from both non-governmental agencies
(arguing based on federal laws pertaining civil rights of the deaf
population) and Federal Government (Ministry of Education and Ministry of
Science and Technology). But they only cared to start hearing me after I
managed to conduct more than 40 major research programs over the last 25
years and publishing more than 50 books and 400 science papers. It was
not easy at all, and I do comprehend your frustration with just how hard the
road for noble idealistic people like yourself may be.

You may detest what I have to say next (I apologize should that be the
case), but, for genuine love (for your noble cause abd yourself as a person)
and painful experience, I must say it:
Typically what I would recommend is that authors pay themselves for the cost
of publication of the first edition of their dictionaries (instead of
keeping them in the drawer while waiting for a whole year of promises that
may never be fulfilled).
Twenty years ago I discovered the wisdom of that strategy after spending my
time running after funds, and realizing my time was far more precious than
the funds themselves!!!!
So I paid for the publication of my first dictionaries 20 years ago. Three
years later that was no longer necessary. Nowadays, of course, I have all
funds I need to publish whatever I need.

Why is it that I should recommend you something like that?
Well, people usually do not believe us, unless they have some good reason
for doing that.
I know what we say to ourselves all the time:
"Oh, if only we had a chance of showing them how good the reason is! How
important our sign language dictionary is for deaf people! Then they would
understand! It is a darn, darn catch 22! We need funds to publish, but they
will give us funds only once we have demonstrated to them that we are indeed
capable of publishing! Rats!"

Yep! Welcome to the real world of idealistic authors of virgin sign
languages of this strange planet of ours!

Do I mean we have to create and obsessively perfect unendlessly the whole
dictionary from scratch and then we have to pay with our own scarce money in
order to have it published?! Yep! (and the money is scarce, of couse,
because we have never been paid at all for creating the dictionary - instead
we have spent each and every penny of our thin piggy-like safe over the last
years financing deaf informants, illustrators, etc etc etc...)

Once we go being extracting milk from the rocks  (in my case, borrowing
monet from the Bank!) and finally manage to publish the dictionary we manage
to put before people's physical eyes what was only in our tearful mind's

And then?
Then aha!
People finally start seeing what we can do, start changing the way they see
us, and start putting their trust on us, and their money on our projects.
Then they finally see we are, indeed, capable of doing something remarkable,
something we knew all along we have always been capable of doing. In my case
not only capable but also spiritually obliged.

We have to pay the price in order to have the opportunity of working and
helping. But once we do pay the price for the opportunity of showing just
how capable and devoted we are, then they see what we are really capable of
doing, and then, only then, funding comes, grants start to pour from heaven
to our sacred harvest, and then, only then we can start collecting the
crops to feed the hungry children we have all craved along to serve and
protect and foster.

It worked for me. It may work for you too.
I am not saying that is the only way. I'm just saying that was my "via
crucis" way (perhaps unfortunatelly, perhaps fortunatelly - it all depends
on whether we are materialistic or spiritual).

Ramon, your country is very rich and prosperous and proud of its culture.
Mine, on the other hand, is a dorment giant who is still quite asleep,
thence, just a developing one. Things usually are much much harder in here
for idealistic people like us, should that be some consolation for you.

Perhaps you may succeed in raising awareness without having to go through
all that. Perhaps you may not even have to pay for the costs of the first
edition yourself before they begin trust you.
But if you do, be at peace. In this huge world of ours, there is plenty of
unnoticed heroism going on.
(A wise child philosopher named Charlie Brown once expressed this feeling
saying something like this: "Doing a good job in here is pretty much like
pissing in one's own dark pants: it produces an intimate warm feeling, but
nobody notices..." - since I'm quoting from memory and am foreigh to
English, I may ascertain that that is the idea, though the phrasing was not
exactly that, I'm afraid).

I do hope for the very best for you and your Catalan deaf population. You
definitely deserve all the best.

True blessings from this odd and old tired warrior.

Fernando Capovilla, Sao Paulo, Brazil

PS: I apologize for misspellings.

2010/3/7 <sw-l-request at majordomo.valenciacc.edu>

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> Today's Topics:
>   1. pro publication CSL dictionary? (ramon ferrerons ruiz)
> ---------- Mensagem encaminhada ----------
> From: "ramon ferrerons ruiz" <rferrerons at gmail.com>
> To: sw-l at majordomo.valenciacc.edu
> Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2010 17:40:11 +0100
> Subject: [sw-l] pro publication CSL dictionary‏
> Dear Friend,
> I don't know if you're aware that, back in October 2000, I presented my
> work *The signs on the inside* (which was an etymological research project
> about Catalan Sign Language, and had the backing of the former Chancellor of
> the University of Barcelona, Ph.D. Antonio Caparros) to a prestigious award,
> without success. After that, I began to work in the first general and
> etymological dictionary of the Catalan Sign Language, the text of which I
> almost completed in late 2007.
> Since then I have held parallel talks with two publishers -I'm still in
> contact with one of them- in order to publish my work, and also to find out
> if there are any grants or subsidies we could use, either from the Catalan
> Government or the Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries. Another
> important issue has been trying to obtain purchase commitments for a certain
> number of copies per edition from many public catalan institutions... And
> this is going on and on, like if it wasn't important having a waiting deaf
> community .
> Finally, on March 15th I'm going to have a critical meeting, that I hope it
> will be conclusive. In order to  make known all this facts, I have started a
> * **campaign through Facebook*<http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=341128522603>to denounce this scandal and demand that the agreements needed between
> government, private enterprise and myself come to fruition. I need YOUR
> support, and the support of all those that relate to the CSL, even if you
> simply are in favor of culture and solidarity with the excluded. This
> campaign will be closed on March 13th. Do you have a minute to spare? Then
> join us!
> Ramon
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