Wikipedia article

Shane K. Gilchrist shane.gilchrist at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 4 01:43:04 UTC 2011


I think that many people (who are fluent in ASL or other signed languages)
are frustrated dealing with many people who are new to ASL.  Many ASL
beginners were often upset that they can't go and use ASL signed in the
English order i.e. MY NAME I-S SHANE. I AM GO-ING TO THE SHOPS (instead of
MY NAME WHAT? SHANE. ME GO SHOP-SHOP) and in many cases, they would try and
tell people who are fluent in ASL how to reconstruct the signed language - I
am not saying that you are one of them - however it is frustrating for many
people. Maybe we are jealous that Americans learning Spanish won't complain
about the Spanish language using different grammar / word order to

There are times when my partner wish that I would let him use Signed English
rather than Northern Ireland Sign Language that uses a lot of
placements/locative expressions and the many concepts that does not exist in
a linear language such as English!!!

But I can see your point there - I think there should be a more simpler
example of a ASL sentence - people who are good with ASL will understand
Cherie Wren's signwritten "Jack & Jill" but newcomers like you would find it
hard to follow it as it has used a lot of locative expressions.

Everyone: Any suggestions for the new example? I won't recommend poetic
stuff/high culture stuff - we need something simple and easy!


p.s. Cherie: we ll want to keep your example! (I like it!) - we ll need
another example as well!

On Jun 3, 2011, at 3:21 PM, George Veronis wrote:
> A number of people responded to my suggestion about signwriting (SW).  Only
> two of them understood where I was coming from and why I made the suggestion
> that a simpler, more straightforward piece is called for in the Wikipedia
> article.  Valerie Sutton mentioned the origins of SW and how it arose from
> someone without a background in sign language.  I think that all of the
> respondents should read and think about what she wrote because at the time
> she was also not involved in SW as it has developed.  The other person who
> made very pertinent remarks is Stuart Thiessen, who went through the same
> experience that I have, viz., very little knowledge at a very early stage of
> learning ASL.  He, too, needed responses to questions that arose from very
> little experience with ASL
> I think that communication itself must be handled with care.  One has to
> take the time and trouble to understand the basis and the reason for remarks
> made and questions asked.  The article in Wikipedia is in the English
> language and the topics contained therein are intended for English speaking
> people.  I wrote as an English speaker and relatively ignorant ASL user who
> was trying to understand an esoteric
> topic.  All of you must have been confronted with "Why signwriting - why
> don't they just use the text?".  That's a very understandable question for
> someone with little or no training in sign language and with no experience
> with deaf people. I have attended a total of 12 classes in ASL; for my final
> exam I decided to try to convey to the class that something called
> signwriting exists.  No one in a class of fifteen, not even the teacher, had
> ever heard of signwriting.  So those of you who have been involved with SW
> for a long time should keep in mind that there is a world of people who
> might want to know about SW and who will probably ask very simple and
> elementary questions, as I did.
> Given what I just wrote, I would like to suggest that a statement like the
> one that Adam Frost made:
> Having a literal translation will actually be seen as an insult, especially
> to native users, and will make SignWriting seem to be an oppressors tool to
> limit how Sign Language is used  must be directed to an audience very
> different from the vast majority of users of Wikipedia.  I was completely
> perplexed by it
> and it was only after thinking hard about how in world anyone could
> misconstrue my simple suggestion that I realized how delicate the issue of
> communication is and how hard we have to think about the source of the
> question.  Without giving the issue serious consideration, the two sides,
> experienced SW users and those seeking to understand what SW is all about,
> will never make contact and that would be a pity.  But as long as people
> like Thiessen and Sutton are involved, there is hope that the issue will not
> get too far out of control.
> With serious good intentions,
> George Veronis
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Sw-l mailing list