[Sw-l] Question on Unicode

Stephen Slevinski slevin at SIGNPUDDLE.NET
Thu Dec 7 15:45:09 UTC 2017

On 12/7/17 5:31 AM, Claudia S. Bianchini wrote:
> Hello Steve (and everybody)
> I'm working on my bookchapter on SW and I'm analysing your work on 
> Unicode.

Hi Claudia,

This is the Unicode 8 design approved by the UTC (Unicode Technical 
Committee) in 2015.  It was based on my work, but they made changes I 
opposed.  As it stands, the Unicode 8 design is incomplete, flawed, and 

Discussions with the UTC are ongoing.  In October 2017, the UTC created 
an action item to respond to my issues, but I'm still waiting for the 

> When you add a modifier "R2-3-4-...-16" to an HANDSHAPE it will change 
> the hand and the angle.... when you add a modifier "F2-3-4-5-6" it 
> will  modify the side of the hand you will see...  And for the moment 
> no problem! For each hanshape you have 96 possibilities.
That's the basic idea.  Rotation modifiers R1 thru R8 rotate 
counter-clockwise by 45 degrees.  R9 thru R16 mirror the hand and then 
rotate clockwise by 45 degrees.  Fill modifiers F1 thru F6 deal with 
palm facings.  F1 thru F3 for the front perspective and F4 thru F6 for 
the top perspective.
* http://signbank.org/SignWriting_Character_Viewer.html#?ui=en&set=uni8

For the handshapes, there are five exceptions that deal with the heel of 
hand.  These exceptions use R1 thru R16, but only F2.

> When you add a modifier "R2-...-16" to a HAND MOVEMENT it will modify 
> the side of rotation and the angle... when you add a modifier "F2...6" 
> it will modify the hand that is moving (left, right, both).
This is not exactly right and the movement symbols demonstrate that the 
fill modifiers and rotation modifiers are really nothing more than 
column and row.

The ISWA 2010 contains 652 base symbols.  For each of these base 
symbols, Valerie created a grid of symbols with 6 columns and 16 rows.  
There are many general rules, but none are universal.

Generally speaking, for movement, F1 is for right hand, F2 is for left 
hand, and F3 is for both hands when the movement overlaps. Sometimes F4 
contains arrow stems without the arrow head.

Other times, F4 is for alternate right, F5 for alternate left, and F6 
for alternate overlapping movement.

> HERE IS MY QUESTION... for this modification you just need no-F (F1), 
> F2 and F3... you dont need F4, F5 and F6 because for every movement 
> you just have 48 possibilities...
> 1) what happen if I use F4, F5 and F6 fo modify a hand movement?

This depends on the design of the font.  For ligature based fonts, every 
valid combination needs to be explicitly defined.

The Unicode 8 based ligatures are defined in a 1.3 MB file.

Here are the first few lines.

feature ccmp {
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA7 by S38b07;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA6 by S38b06;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA5 by S38b05;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA4 by S38b04;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA3 by S38b03;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA2 by S38b02;
   sub u1DA8B u1DAA1 by S38b01;
   sub u1DA8B by S38b00;

Inside the font, each symbol glyph is named after the symbol key. The 
Unicode 8 design is mapped to the symbol keys using CCMP ligatures.

When a mapping is unavailable, it will result in a dangling 
modifier(s).  Depending on the font, the modifiers by themselves may or 
may not have glyphs defined.

Movement symbol (U+1D988) doesn't have any mapping for F5.  So for the 
string "U+1D988 F5 R16", the only valid substitution will be "sub u1D988 
by S28800", which will results in the string (S28800 F5 R16).  The 
symbol key is mapped directly to the symbol glyph and the F5 and R16 are 

> 2) F4 will act exactly as no-F (and F2=F5 and F3=F6)? or will I get a 
> "void" caracter, so I can't add F4 to a hand movement? I think that 
> you are using opentype to create a good font for SW, right? I'm not 
> very good in this field, but I think that this problem belong to 
> opentype not to unicode, right? So what have you done with opentype....

In the font that I created to support the Unicode 8 design, I did not 
define custom glyphs for stand-alone modifiers.  These modifiers by 
themselves will use the default glyph, which is a small X.

> 3) If I'm a researcher and I need to find every single Hand Movement 
> with F2, how can I get also the one with F5 (F2=F5) without going 
> crazy doing strange queries... I reformulate... is there something 
> (not me!) that will know that HandMov+F2 is the same that HandMov+F5 
> and will give me both when I just serach HandMOv+F2?
F2 does not equal F5, so this really shouldn't be an issue.  I might be 
missing something, so please ask again.




Valerie Sutton
SignWriting List moderator
sutton at signwriting.org

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