July 1, 2010
Hello Dali and Adam!
Thank you for this question, Dali, and thank you Adam, for your answer. And thank you for your answer too, Charles...
You do not need to be embarrassed, Dali, to ask any question, and this one is a good one! It oftentimes comes up. There are two theories in the SignWriting world on how to write these handshapes, when the fingers are in an Angle or Hinge position, and both ways of writing them are fine....So just relax and enjoy the differences. Vive les différences!
Let me explain the writing method I know best - the one we use here...let's call our writing method the "Sutton-DAC" style of writing ;-)
The Sutton-DAC way of writing Hinge and Angle Handshapes relates to the "Center of the Body". I work with a group of Deaf ASL signers, the Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting (the DAC). In the late 1980s and 1990s, the DAC used to meet in my home every Wednesday nights. Sometimes we would have 7 or 8 Deaf people sitting in my living room, drinking coffee and arguing about grammar and writing issues together - it was really exhilarating for me to be in on these discussions and this had a profound influence on me and our writing style. In recent years, it has been more "on the internet" discussions with Deaf writers, but in Adam's case, we are a team. Adam just arrived here today, from up north, and will be staying with me July and August, before going to Gallaudet University in September. Adam and I are writing a book together on SignWriting Handshapes, documenting the ISWA 2010, and this issue will be discussed at length in our new textbook.
In our way of writing, the fingers are directed towards the center of the body most of the time. Adam and other Deaf ASL signers looked at their own hands while signing, and we discussed this a lot over several years, and it seems that it is rare that the hand ever really turns out to the outside of the body. When people are signing, they usually direct their fingers in a relaxed way, slightly into the center of the body. So we write the fingers of these handshapes directed towards the center of the body, like in the sign for FOOD or EAT:
Adam has created some animations that show the 6 palm facings directed towards the Center for the Body:
To see the animation go to:
You can view animations of every handshape in the ISWA 2010:
SignWriting Symbol Lessons
As you have already mentioned, there is also another way of writing Angle and Hinge handshapes developed by the Parkhursts from Spain, in their textbook SignoEscritura, that relates to Thumbs, rather than the center of the body. Stefan Woehrmann also presents this style of writing for German Sign Language, in his textbook on SignWriting, the SignWriting Handbook. Both books are in our SignWriting Shop online, and you can download the SignoEscritura textbook in both English and Spanish on the web, as you have already done I believe:
Parkhurst's textbook SignoEscritura
These are beautiful books and I feel honored that they have been written and have contributed greatly to the success of SignWriting. Thank you, Stefan, and Steve and Dianne Parkhurst, for these treasures...I look at your books in my office and feel so happy to see books written on SignWriting!
So i suggest, Dali, that you write whatever feels the best to you...we can read each other's documents with no problem, no matter which style you choose, because a white palm means facing the body in general and when we see the white palm, we know what you mean, no matter which side you place the fingers -
On Jul 1, 2010, at 7:32 PM, Adam Frost wrote:
> Hello Dali,
> Actually that is a very good question. One that confuses many beginners for very valid reasons. Basically it is a difference in how people view how to write the 5 handshape that you were referring to, which is more specifically the hinge handshape.
> When you have you hand facing yourself and the fingers hinged towards you, do the look like they go to the left or the right, in or out? In reality, it is neither, but the problem comes when you are writing it on a flat paper, so it could be either. So how do we solve this? This is where the two different ideas come along and thus confusing new writers like yourself.
> As you noticed, the Spanish have it so that the white hands goes out while the black hands go inward. This is because the symbols have the thumbs on the side of the palm that you would expect in real life; outward when the palm faces you, and inward when it doesn't.
> Then you noticed that the "crazy" Americans (I can say that because I am one and I am being a little humorous here. Wink.) have it so that the hinge is drawn in one direction whether it is black or white. This is because of the general philosophy that held by many Deaf individuals that have worked with Val over the years (including myself) and have influenced her also to subscribe to it. This philosophy is that all signs have a center and the hands are written flowing to its center. So it makes it so that the hinge handshapes always turn inward regardless.
> I hope that this helps you understand why there is a difference that you notice. So it is really that both are readable to the reader that understands this. My suggestion is that you pick one that you feel is most comfortable and most common with those that you write with.
> PS If you really don't know which to go with, go with always having the hinges going inward because that is how the ISWA is set up and it is easier to remember, but that is my biased opinion. ;-)
> On Jul 1, 2010, at 6:59 PM, "Dali balti" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hello every one!
>> I have a small question which might be easy for all of you but it is so embarrassing for me!!!
>> when dealing with five fingers, and specially when the palm of the hand is facing me, I discovered that many people use different shapes which make me puzzled!
>> for instance, when I used the Spanish manual which was translated into English for SignWriting teachings, in the list of the symbols, when dealing with 5 fingers (white - not black and not half-half), and when the thumb is touching the other fingers: the handshape direction of the fingers is opposite to the other black handshapes, the Spanish manual do teach so, you can see the handshapes (example to give). But in other french and american dictionaries, the 5 fingers are having the same directions whether black or white!
>> I do not know if I have well explained my point of view!
>> I have listed an example : http://www.signbank.org/SignPuddle1.5/searchword.php?ui=4&sgn=49&sid=4563,4564,4322,2335,3726,5206&search=donner&type=any
>> the fingers here, should be turned to the left as it is written, or to the right since the thumb is not in the right direction????? or is it up to the signer to choose??????
>> please help me I am so confused?