An alphabet for a specific sign language from the ISWA 2010

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sat Jul 28 20:32:19 UTC 2012

SignWriting List
July 28, 2012

Hi Maria and Charles -

Yes, Charles is correct. Using the Symbol Frequency feature in SignPuddle Online is an excellent way to find all of the symbols used to write the signs in that specific database. For example, imagine you are searching for all of the handshapes used in American Sign Language.

1. Go to the ASL SignPuddle dictionary:

ASL SignPuddle Dictionary

2. Click on Symbol Frequency.
3. Click on the Hands category.
4. Click on the SymbolGroup you want.
5. Notice in that group, which symbols have numbers under them, and which ones are grey?
6. The grey symbols are symbols not used in writing ASL signs in the ASL dictionary puddle.
7. The numbers under the symbols shows how many times that symbol was used to write signs in this database…

See attached -


On Jul 27, 2012, at 10:38 PM, Charles Butler wrote:

> The fastest way to do that is to look at "symbol frequency" in any of the SignPuddles. This would give you the current research on the minimal pairs of a language. For example, one of the earlier publications of LIBRAS had determined a certain number of handshapes (around 96), then people began putting in the variants from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Rio Grande de Sul and the number expanded. Each day we've gotten a few more handshapes. When I was there in 2000, there were two handshapes, for example, using the ring finger and the thumb in contact, "droga" and "noiva", which depend on where the thumb is placed. 
> Charles Butler
> chazzer3332000 at
> 240-764-5748
> Clear writing moves business forward.
> From: MARIA GALEA <maria.azzopardi at UM.EDU.MT>
> Sent: Friday, July 27, 2012 11:34 PM
> Subject: An alphabet for a specific sign language from the ISWA 2010
> Dear all,
> Me again with one more question..
> Has anyone out there studied the alphabet of his/her sign language- that
> is  has anyone derived a smaller amount of symbols from the ISWA 2010, as
> the significant symbols (an alphabet) for writing a specific language e.g.
> ASL, BSL, Norwegian Sign Language, German sign language etc?
> If you know of any such work could you direct me to it please.
> If you have carried it out would love to include and refer to your work in
> my dissertation.
> Once again I truly appreciate ANY feedback whatsoever,
> Thanks
> Maria

Val ;-)

Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
sutton at

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