Wikipedia article

Stuart Thiessen thiessenstuart.lists at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 3 06:08:56 UTC 2011

Well, I don't think the point of the original poster is transliterating or
English signing. I think you might be misunderstanding. The point of the
original poster from what I saw is that he was unable to figure out from his
knowledge of ASL and the printed text what signs were being represented in
the ASL text. He was using the English as a Rosetta Stone to understand how
SignWriting works. It is a kind of bridge literacy. This is similar to what
I did when I first started learning SignWriting back in the 90's. The
example I was looking at was the article written by Lucinda O'Grady Batch
("A Deaf Perspective") and I looked at what I could find on the SignWriting
website. Gradually, between my knowledge of ASL and my knowledge of English
and the information on the website, I was able to piece together how
SignWriting worked. Later, after I bought the handbook and asked more
questions, I began to understand more. That document was an excellent place
to start because there were limited instances of poetry or strong classifier
usage or places where the English and ASL might diverge too much. So, his
point that a simpler document would be a better introduction is a good
suggestion. We can still use Cherie's document as a way of showing how
SignWriting also handles classifiers and other "more complicated" ASL
constructions. It isn't a matter of either/or. It is both/and, in my



On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 3:56 PM, Cherie Wren <cwterp at> wrote:

> There is a huge difference between American Sign Language and Signed
> English.  It sounds to me as if you are suggesting that the example needs to
> be in Signed English... "a literal translation of signing."   As if, in
> order to understand written Chinese, we need to have an example of something
> written in English...
> That is the beauty of SignWriting...  That example is a literal
> transcription (not translation) of how the poem is signed.  Using
> signwriting, I can sign a story in Polish sign Language, without
> understanding a bit of it, just like I can look at written French and say
> the words without understanding it.  Why does it need to be in English to
> introduce a script meant to write ASL?
> cherie
> ------------------------------
> *From:* George Veronis <george.veronis at YALE.EDU>
> *Sent:* Thursday, June 2, 2011 11:12 AM
> *Subject:* Wikipedia article
> I very recently started on sign language just out of interest and
> curiosity.  In the process of learning I discovered that signwriting exists
> so I looked it up in Wikipedia.
> I don't know who wrote the Wikipedia article about signwriting but I do
> have a suggested change.  Since that article may be the first one for people
> who are interested in learning about signwriting , I believe that it is
> essential that the first demonstration should be very clear and free of
> ambiguity or confusion.  Cherie Wren's version of Jack and Jill is not the
> way to introduce the topic.  The introduction should contain a very literal
> transliteration of signing.  That would give a person an idea of what it is
> about and how to go about it.  In Cherie's poem the second line, "to fetch a
> pail of water", doesn't contain the words: pail, fetch or water.  I spent
> quite a lot of time trying to figure out what was in that line and failed.
> Cherie Wren eventually wrote to me explaining that it is a poetic version of
> the verse and not meant to be a transliteration of the original.  But my
> feeling is that many people would have given up by that time and simply
> ended up being confused about the effectiveness of signwriting.
> Mind you, I have no objection to Cherie's version, but I think that it is
> something that can be accessed later, when the reader might be interested in
> more cultural issues.  What is needed in the introduction is something
> clearer and unambiguous.  By analogy I would say that it would be have been
> a mistake to have Robert Frost try to instruct first graders to read by
> reciting one of his poems.
> Sincerely,
> George Veronis
> Regards,
> George
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