SignWriting Report: Erika Hoffman, Anthropological Linguist

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sat Mar 13 05:33:54 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
March 12, 2010

SignWriting Report
>>From Val's Desk

A Visit with Dr. Erika Hoffman-Dilloway, Anthropological Linguist

Part 4: Learning PersonalPuddle Software

In Erika's lab at Oberlin College in Ohio, students are introduced to SignWriting for their research. The lab now has PersonalPuddle software for writing SignWriting transcripts and dictionaries, plus several textbooks and other reference materials.

During our last day together, we spent the day learning the PersonalPuddle software, which makes it possible to use SignPuddle without an internet connection....Then, if you want to connect to the internet and copy to and from SignPuddle Online, you can. This was really a valuable day, because learning the software is a great Erika can teach others how to use the PersonalPuddle.

While Erika learned the PersonalPuddle, we reviewed her transcripts on Nepali Sign Language. Erika has videos of Deaf native Nepali signers, and also videos of herself signing too. We started to transcribe one of those videos together, using the PersonalPuddle...The video was of a Deaf teacher of Deaf students in Nepal. The Deaf teacher was standing in front of her classroom, signing to them.  We became quite engrossed in writing the details of the signs which were quite different than any signs I had seen before and I really enjoyed writing the signs with Erika, step by the PersonalPuddle.

The day before, Erika had a day away from SignWriting. Erika visited two research labs in San Diego. One of them was LLCN, the Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Neuroscience at SDSU, directed by Dr. Karen Emmorey.

Erika discussed her research with Karen, and with different staff members and guests at LLCN, including Lucinda O'Grady Batch, who is the SignWriting teacher on the Lessons in SignWriting Video Series. Lucinda (Cindy) is one of the Deaf signwriters who requested writing in the Expressive and writing in vertical columns, long ago...Without Cindy's input we would not be writing today as we are, so her work has contributed to SignWriting history. And Erika is interested in writing about SignWriting history...

So we all agreed to stay in touch and support each other's work whenever we can...

I will now create a Nepali SignPuddle Online, and will write again when it is posted...

Thank you, Erika, for coming to visit me. I really enjoyed our time together and look forward to learning more about your work -

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
Sutton at


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