All Things Linguistic: SignWriting in ASL

Erika erhoffma at OBERLIN.EDU
Sat Mar 2 17:54:09 UTC 2013

Forgive typos - writing on phone. 
But yeah, I think I was starting to annoy people! But it was quite interesting to see how entrenched an assumption it is that simplicity in a system is an inherent virtue (such that a system that permits a wide range of choice in detail is seen as flawed because the more complex end of the range exists).

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 2, 2013, at 12:48 PM, Erika <erhoffma at> wrote:

> It's funny - I'm writing this on my phone from a Deaf studies conference at Swarthmore and in our last discussion we ended up in a discussion. Comparing Si5s with SW. People really didn't understand what SW was and I kept hijacking the conversation trying to correct misinformation. :)
> Sent from my iPhone
> On Mar 2, 2013, at 11:38 AM, "MARIA GALEA" <maria.azzopardi at UM.EDU.MT> wrote:
>> Oh sorry - i didn't notice the thread in these emails -
>> thanks for the information Stuart about the book, I will try to trace it..
>> thanks all..
>> maria
>>> So minimalist to the point of you have to perform minimal pairs on every
>>> element in the system. I am beginning to see that effort in LIBRAS as we
>>> see comparisons of hand shapes and orientations that come from a
>>> linguistic point of view.
>>> Example from Eda Amorim is that the thumb in many cases is not the
>>> differentiator for meaning, such as the flat hand, several signs that are
>>> performed with the index and middle finger where the same sign exists with
>>> the thumb articulated and not so that complete dictionaries don't easily
>>> show the relation.
>>> This will be a long-term effort, and right now SW is the only way to
>>> clearly and quickly show the related signs.
>>> Charles Butler
>>> chazzer3332000 at
>>> 240-764-5748
>>> Clear writing moves business forward.
>>> --- On Fri, 3/1/13, Adam Frost <icemandeaf at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>>> From: Adam Frost <icemandeaf at GMAIL.COM>
>>> Subject: Re: All Things Linguistic: SignWriting in ASL
>>> Date: Friday, March 1, 2013, 2:49 PM
>>> That's the same impression I got from Robert Arnold when I talked with him
>>> about si5s a few years back.
>>> Adam
>>> On Mar 1, 2013, at 11:22 AM, Stuart Thiessen wrote:
>>> I have the book for si5s and have discussed some with Adrean Clark who
>>> wrote the book. Since I am interested in writing sign languages in
>>> general, I figured I might as well find out more about their system.
>>> One major difference between si5s and SignWriting is that si5s is not
>>> interested in being able to record all the details of the signing. Where
>>> SignWriting can be used to be as detailed or as simple as you want, si5s
>>> is intended to be as minimal as possible (or so I understand). In some
>>> cases, you may not be able to be as specific with si5s as you can with
>>> SignWriting. That's an intentional design decision. New symbols are added
>>> only if it is absolutely necessary to be readable. At least, that is how I
>>> understand the approach.

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