The graphemes of SignWriting

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Thu Oct 7 17:30:38 UTC 2010

SignWriting List
October 7, 2010

Hello Steve and everyone -
Thank you for this write-up, Steve, and thanks to everyone's feedback too...

I like the term "clusters"...I used to use the term "visual clusters" back in the 1980's and 1990's to explain to people that SignWriting was evolving into a system that has clusters of symbols anchored around a center point, rather than being written in a line from left to right, like the Roman alphabet does for spoken languages...the term "cluster" seemed to be something people understood easily...a grouping of symbols that makes up the SignSpelling for a sign (a word)...

But that was just my old way of is nice that you have documented specific terminology here, Steve - maybe someday we can put some diagrams in to show people what each term means...but that is not necessary right now...SignPuddle 2.0 is more important...

>From a visual thinkers' point of view, all that matters is how it looks in SignWriting...the terminology is necessary for programmers and researchers of course...

Thanks for your hard work, Steve -

Val ;-)


On Oct 7, 2010, at 3:57 AM, Steve Slevinski wrote:

> Hi List,
> While preparing a document for publication, I wrote an introductory sentence about the graphemes of SignWriting.  Any feedback would be appreciated...
> 1.1.1.  Grapheme
>   The grapheme is the fundamental unit of writing for the SignWriting
>   script.  The graphemes of SignWriting are visually iconic.  Each
>   grapheme has a defined size and shape.  The main writing graphemes of
>   SignWriting represent a visual conception: either hands, movement,
>   dynamics, timing, head, face, or body.  These graphemes are used in
>   clusters.
>   Detailed location graphemes are separate from writing graphemes.
>   Detailed location graphemes are used individually or sequentially.
>   They represent isolated analysis that is written outside the cluster.
>   Punctuation graphemes are used when writing sentences.  They are used
>   individually, outside of a cluster.
>   When written by hand, lines are drawn to form each grapheme.
>   Different styles draw different types of lines: either for personal
>   taste, speed, or quality.
>   When written with computers, the graphemes have two aspects.  The
>   first is the line that defines the shape of the grapheme.  The second
>   aspect is the fill that is used when graphemes overlap.  The official
>   standard size and shape for each grapheme is defined with a 2
>   dimensional pixel map of line and fill.  Vector based refinements
>   have been completed for all hand shapes but still need to be converted.
>   Each grapheme in SignWriting has two centers: absolute and artistic.
>   The absolute center of the grapheme is based on the width and height
>   of the grapheme.  The artistic center of a grapheme is context
>   dependent.  For a hand shape grapheme, the artistic center is the
>   center of the palm.
> Thanks for reading,
> -Steve

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