Teaching Signwriting to deaf children in Tunisia A PROPOSAL FOR ALL
signwriting at MAC.COM
Sat Dec 21 22:16:41 UTC 2013
December 21, 2013
Hello James, Dali, and everyone who teaches SignWriting around the world…and there are many people who do now… and each country, and each teacher, teaches differently and uses different materials… I hope to post these materials on the web for download...
Thank you for this email, James, and I agree that the materials you describe below sound excellent and are needed - and thank you also for the books and literature you have written in Nicaraguan Sign Language already, in SignWriting…I have barely been able to keep up with posting all the documents - There are sooooo many documents that have been sent to me privately that have not yet been posted on our web site, it is a true shame…So I will try to rectify this in 2014 if I can… Maybe if I can keep up my strength we will have more and more materials posted in 2014 -
Regarding Tunisia, I just want to explain that we are all blessed with Professor Mohamed Dali Balti, who is diligently translating some of our books and materials into Tunisian Sign Language and Arabic and French - the languages of Tunisia. There are two such books that Dali has just sent to me in the past two weeks…one a textbook on SignWriting Hand Symbols used in Tunisian Sign Language, based on Adam Frost’s work, and the other is a beautiful translation of our Beginner’s Workbook in SignWriting…the Goldilocks coloring book…that we use in the SignWriting Literacy Project.
Both books are large enough that I think I need to post them on our web site first, and then write again with the links to download the books, rather than post them directly here on the List. Also, Dali has written other children’s stories in SignWriting in Tunisian Sign Language, and I believe one of them is Little Red Riding Hood, which you mention, James below…. so Tunisia is one country that is moving towards your goals, James -
I will write again with the links to the Tunisian documents -
And there is now a book from Slovenia - Slovenia is also teaching SignWriting to Deaf children - more on that too -
On Dec 21, 2013, at 9:15 AM, James Shepard-Kegl <kegl at maine.rr.com> wrote:
> Fellow Signwriters, educators, linguists and signers,
> I continue to mull over the request for materials for the little Tunisian project. I am ignoring the notion that SignWriting will help Deaf children with sounds (?????) or their "mother tongue" (unless their mother is Deaf and signs and this means their "mother hand").
> However, the request for materials to teach SignWriting is a valid request IF the request is really to teach signing, using SignWriting as an orthographic tool (which is what SW actually is.) I am sure that many of us have been developing such materials in one form or another for years. Maybe we could pool resources and efforts to produce something that many people will find truly useful.
> Let's begin with a premise: Signed languages tend to be grammatically similar (not the same, but not all that different, either.) Vocabulary varies a lot, but all signed languages use classifiers and classifier clitics a great deal. All these languages follow syntax rules using spatial and locative verbs. This is the reason that natively fluent Deaf signers in one country pick up other signed languages so quickly, even when these signers themselves cannot articulate their own grammar rules. (You don't have to know what a "predicate" is to use one properly in your sentence structure for your own language. On the other hand, it is very useful to know grammar labels and rules when you are trying to learn the language of somebody else.)
> I keep making a big deal that you can't teach SignWriting unless you have developed reading material that is FUN to read. But, what I mean is that you want fun and engaging reading material to help teach signing -- and not just to Deaf children, but to their hearing siblings and parents/grandparents, as well.
> I am picturing in my mind a text, divided into sections:
> 1) A RULES section that explains in detail the common grammar terms of signed languages. This section would use illustrations from many signed languages. And, this section would be translated into many spoken languages. (That is, there would be an English version, a French version, an Arabic version, and so forth. The educator then purchases or is furnished with the specified version.) You will note that this section is intended for literate educators. An ASL version, or translation in other signed languages, would be really cool, too. Publishing something that will be understandable and helpful will not be easy. However, please bear in mind that the reason that most hearing administrators do not accept that signed languages are bona fide languages (and the reason that so many Deaf people don't believe it either is that publications like this are rare.)
> 2) A VOCABULARY section -- perhaps 1,000 signs -- again, specify the signed language you want. Each sign is depicted in photos or diagrams, SignWriting, and "the mother tongue". A cute illustration would be nice, too.
> 3) A SIGNWRITING WORKBOOK to accompany the vocabulary section.
> 4) A READING section: 20 illustrated children's stories, to be practiced and enjoyed by all. If you produce a simple illustrated version of Little Red Riding Hood in German, it does not take a lot of effort to reproduce the same story in English. This should be even more true for signed languages.
> This concept will take a lot of work -- several years, I expect. But, in the end, when someone somewhere asks for materials to teach SignWriting, we will have something really impressive, fun and useful to offer.
> -- James
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